‘Old School’ Football Leads Ravens to Playoffs

‘Old School’ Football Leads Ravens to Playoff Berth

With Lamar Jackson sidelined Saturday, the Ravens were tasked again to win without their starting signal caller. Offensively, on the backs of the running game and backup quarterback Tyler Huntley, the Ravens claimed victory over the Atlanta Falcons, 17-9.

The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker gave credit to the game plan developed and called by Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman, saying “Greg Roman gave the people what they wanted with a game plan straight out of the 1970s.”

“The oft-pillored offensive coordinator did not make the same mistake against the Falcons, leaning on his running attack to build a lead — 20 carries for 110 yards in the first half — and again to seal the game in the fourth quarter,” Walker wrote. “When the Ravens needed to get off their own 2-yard line with 6:39 left in the game, they handed the ball to Gus Edwards, and he rumbled for 14. When they needed a first down to send them to victory formation, they handed it to Edwards twice more, and he picked up 11. Game over.”

Press Box’s Bo Smolka also credited Roman for the play-calling and Edwards in particular.

“After being pilloried for abandoning the run last week, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman got reacquainted with his running backs — except for one puzzling sequence — and they delivered,” Smolka wrote. “Gus Edwards finished with 11 carries for 99 yards, including a 37-yarder that led to the Ravens’ third field goal early in the fourth quarter.”

NFL.com’s Eric Edholm noted running back JK Dobbins’ contributions, along with Huntley chipping in on the ground and helping score the lone touchdown in Saturday’s affair.

“After forcing a turnover on defense, the Ravens took over and ran the ball 11 straight times before Tyler Huntley hit Demarcus Robinson for the 6-yard TD, which held up on replay,” Edholm wrote. “Gus Edwards and JK Dobbins fueled that drive and combined for 158 yards on 23 carries on the day, with Huntley chipping in 31 yards on his first eight runs (before three kneedowns). Dobbins’ recent resurgence is a good sign for the Ravens. It wasn’t a pretty performance, but it’s what the Ravens know they need to do with Lamar Jackson still on the mend.”

Ravens Defense ‘Winning in Silence’

The Ravens have stitched together hard-earned victories recently with the aforementioned run game and a stalwart defense. CBS Sports John Breech shared how impressive they’ve been over the stretch of games sans-Jackson.

“The Ravens have quietly won three of their past four games, and those wins have come courtesy of a defense that’s shutting everyone down,” Breech wrote. “Including [Saturday’s] win, the Ravens have now surrendered 14 points or less in six of their past seven games.”

Baltimore Beatdown’s Spencer Schultz helps put in perspective just how solidly the defense has performed.

“The Baltimore Ravens defense has not allowed a touchdown at home since October 23. Their defense has gotten them to ten wins with an incredible second half of the season performance,” Schultz wrote. “If Baltimore’s defense can hold opponents under 20 points like they have in every game but one since acquiring Roquan Smith, they’re a tough out.”

Winning Formula ‘For Now,’ Pundits Say

Although the Ravens won Saturday and are 3-1 in their last four, some familiar concerns were revealed once more against the Falcons. According to Walker, these flaws may be fatal in the postseason when the competition is more formidable.

“We saw some of the trends that have haunted the Ravens in recent weeks, including blown plays in the red zone and lax defense in the two minutes before halftime,” Walker wrote. “That formula won’t work when they’re facing the AFC’s best in January, but they kept pushing towards a postseason berth with their most important player on the sideline for most of the last month. We can’t say they lack determination. “

Walker did recognize the team is, and has been, playing without its star quarterback. However, Baltimore Beatdown’s Dustin Cox expressed concern that the defense won’t be capable of such feats come the playoffs.

“I don’t know how far their rushing attack and defense can carry them in the postseason, but right now all that matter is getting into the dance,” Cox wrote. “Baltimore’s defense is capable of shutting down teams like the Atlanta Falcons, but I’m not sure how well they will fare against the top passing attacks in the AFC in the playoffs.”

While some pundits think the formula could be halted in the playoffs, former Raven Robert Griffin III believes this gameplan, paired with the return of Jackson, has them on a trajectory to the Super Bowl, and Russell Street Report’s Chad Racine agrees.

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