What We Learned From Week 6 In The NFL

A month ago, the Baltimore Ravens were in a code red state. The team ended a training session in September after two players – No.1 run...


A month ago, the Baltimore Ravens were in a code red state.

The team ended a training session in September after two players – No.1 running back Gus Edwards and No.1 cornerback Marcus Peters – tore their anterior cruciate ligaments in back-to-back games. They had already lost running backs JK Dobbins (torn ACL) and Justice Hill (torn Achilles tendon) for the year, and with a whole group of posts devastated, many pundits have rightly called 2021 a lost season. .

Yet here they are. The Ravens are 5-1, atop AFC North, and Sunday’s 34-6 elimination of the Los Angeles Chargers (4-2) sent a clear message to the entire league:

Go ahead and try them out.

After going into full MVP mode a week ago in a thrilling victory over the Indianapolis Colts, quarterback Lamar Jackson didn’t force his place in a Superman cape on Sunday. The veteran free agents Baltimore signed when those injuries hit – Latavius ​​Murray, Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell – combined for 115 rushing yards and three touchdowns in this one when the team’s main rusher (behind Jackson), Ty’Son Williams, was inactive.

The Ravens run first and do run often, but make no mistake – this isn’t a ground-and-pound operation straight out of the 1970s. With Jackson lighting up the game, the Ravens can trade hay with Patrick. Mahomes and Kansas City and come out with a 36-35 win, explode in a single quarter like they did against the Colts, or roll with a more surgical approach like it did against the Chargers.

Jackson’s arm threat and Baltimore’s punitive but complex race plan drive the defenses crazy. Jackson has the second-most career 100-yard running game (nine) for a quarterback. And while Michael Vick was 10, it took him 143 regular season games. Jackson? He only played 52.

Ahead of Sunday’s game, there were questions about how the Ravens’ defense would handle an attack that never seems to ease off the gas.

The Chargers brought their irresistible bravado with them 2,700 miles to the east. Brandon Staley’s 100 mph style of training had earned Los Angeles a victory over Kansas City at Arrowhead in Week 3, and he again went full blast to beat the Cleveland Browns last week. He seems to treat punting like it’s a disease.

But in Baltimore, two bold calls turned this one into a blowout.

In the first half, Staley threw the dice in the fourth and third from the Chargers’ 39-yard line. Quarterback Justin Herbert’s high pitch to Mike Williams touched the wide receiver’s hands, but Baltimore’s Marlon Humphrey – one of the gnarliest corners in this NFL – was there to manhandle Williams. The Ravens recovered the ball with nine minutes remaining in the second quarter and scored for a basket and a 17-0 lead.

In the second half, Staley played again. Trailing, 24-6, with 5:58 to go in the third quarter, he did so from his own 19-yard line. Herbert’s 4-1 pass fell incomplete, ending the game.

It’s hard to hit the Chargers first-year coach. Such fearlessness should become the rule, not the exception, in a league mired in old-school thinking.

This time, however, that bravado backfired on a callused Ravens team with a coordinated defense by Don Martindale. The names of yesteryear on that defense are long gone – either retired or signed with other teams – but in his fourth straight year in defense, Martindale has built a unit capable of ruining the NFL’s top offensives.

On the third down before that first bet from Staley, Ravens safety DeShon Elliott blitzed intact and rang Herbert to force a wandering check. In the second quarter, Elliott built up his muscles an interception far of 6-foot-5, 246-pound tight end Jared Cook.

Edge rusher Justin Houston, a 10-year-old NFL veteran, showed he still has plenty of juice in his 31-year-old legs with a bag Herbert’s late in the fourth quarter, and linebacker Josh Bynes, who is on his third stint with the Ravens, was ubiquitous on Sunday.

After running freely in the Cleveland high school, the Chargers receivers had nowhere to go on Sunday. Herbert’s 67.8 passer rating was the second worst of his career. Austin Ekeler? Invisible. He had 7 yards on six carries.

Finally, we get clarity in the AFC. The Buffalo Bills and the burgeoning Ravens have dynamic quarterbacks with special traits – Josh Allen’s bizarre arm strength, Jackson’s elusive elusive. Jackson’s Midas touch was enough to ease the injuries that racked up. But as Sunday’s exit, it’s obvious that both teams have defenses that can result in any explosive attack down a dark alley and win. That’s what made the Ravens so good in 2000 and 2012.

Led by Jackson? A return to the Super Bowl should be the bar for Baltimore.

What a crazy idea that would have been a month ago.

Urban Meyer’s career in the NFL has been an embarrassment so far. Meyer, the Jacksonville coach, has committed a few personal sins – the quick hiring and firing of a strength trainer accused of racist comments and bullying, Tim Tebow’s distraction at training camp – before even the start of the regular season. With that done, the Jaguars (1-5) began to lose heartbreakingly and Meyer’s off-court mistakes eclipsed those he made on the sidelines.

But on Sunday, Meyer earned his first victory as an NFL coach. The Jaguars beat the Miami Dolphins in a 23-20 stun with kicker Matthew Wright – signed a day earlier – punching a 53-yard field goal at the end of the time limit. A wacky combination of factors was all the Jaguars needed to secure their first victory.

  • The match took place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

  • The struggling teams played hot potato with football with one fumble, one interception and one turnover on the downs in a seven-game period in the second half.

  • Wright tied the game, 20-20, with a 54-yard kick that sort of curved at the last moment.

  • Tied at 20-20, Dolphins coach Brian Flores wisely took the shot in the fourth and inches from his 46-yard line with 1:46 to go. The problem was a blatant gambling appeal. Instead of sneaking past, Miami lined up in a shotgun formation. Malcolm Brown was arrested before the scorer.

  • Miami (1-5) had another blunder up its sleeve. In the possession that followed, the Jaguars faced a fourth and five from the Dolphins’ 44-yard line with five seconds left. Flores even asked for a time out to set up the defense. And what happened? The Dolphins allowed quarterback Trevor Lawrence to score Laviska Shenault Jr. for 9 yards.

Shenault hit the grass and Wright won the game, ending a 20-game losing streak, the second longest in the Super Bowl era.

In truth, there is a lot to like about this young core of the Jaguars. Lawrence, the No.1 pick in this year’s draft, is improving steadily. He has a sense of pressure beyond his age. Lawrence pitched for 319 yards and a touchdown.

It’s still hard to believe Jacksonville drafted a running back (Travis Etienne of Clemson) 25th overall this year with James Robinson on the roster. The undrafted 2020 pickup continues to be one of scouting’s great discoveries in the sport, knocking out 101 total yards with a rush score. And the receiving body is a healthy mix of young (Shenault is 23, DJ Chark 25) and old (Marvin Jones Jr. is 31).

The question is whether Meyer can make the most of it before team owner Shahid Khan loses patience.

Kansas City 31, Washington 13: After floating an interception – his second of the first half – while trying to avoid taking a sack, Patrick Mahomes came out of his funk to set up touchdowns on three straight possessions in the second half. A Kansas City secondary who’s been bright all season held Washington to a touchdown.

Packers 24, Bears 14: Justin Fields might be special someday, but Sunday wasn’t. The rookie missed a wide-open Allen Robinson for a touchdown and took some vicious Green Bay shots, which rolled as Aaron Rodgers passed for two touchdowns and ran a third.

Rams 38, Giants 11: One of these days, Cooper Kupp will be recognized for what he is: an elite catcher. Kupp’s full repertoire as a receiver was on display – including some owl dance to make a fourth and 1 touchdown pass – and he now has 46 receptions for 653 yards and seven touchdowns in six games.

Bengals 34, Lions 11: The decision to sign receiver Ja’Marr Chase over tackle Penei Sewell is improving every week. When Chase wasn’t destroying the Lions secondary (97 yards), he was blocking the field to blast Joe Mixon for a 40-yard touchdown. This Cincinnati offense is fun and real.

Colts 31, Texans 3: After a heartbreaking loss all season, the Colts have secured a home date with the Texans to give their ego a boost. Getting it all through second-year fullback Jonathan Taylor (14 carries, 145 yards, two touchdowns) was certainly a great idea. With this victory, Indianapolis rose to second place in the AFC South and strengthened its chances of making the playoffs at 29%.

Vikings 34, Panthers 28, extra time: Good Kirk’s story, Bad Kirk continued in epic fashion with Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins ​​throwing for 373 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions on 33 of 48 passes. A clunker might be around the corner, but that day his perfectly placed ball to KJ Osborn in overtime gave Minnesota the victory.



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