ATLANTA – The last three weeks of the Baltimore Ravens have been framed by quarter-watch questions, just like the week ahead. As long as Lamar Jackson wins and Joe Flacco remains injured, the question of their respective roles in Baltimore this season and beyond, uncertain but closely linked, will remain unresolved.
But as the team celebrated the decisive game of his Victory 26-16 Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, it was not Jackson or his offense rejoicing the imminence of a third consecutive victory and a better holding of the sixth place in the playoffs of the AFC . It was Brandon Carr and Brandon Williams and Chuck Clark and nine other Ravens posing in the end zone.
They were flexing in front of the cameras. They may never have been more obvious than after the defender Tavon Young's catch-up and his return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and the only thing on the board that stands out is the mark of that team: a defense dominant.
Hundreds of questions will be asked this week about who will lead the Ravens' attack at a prestigious Sunday clash against the Kansas City Chiefs. Jackson is undefeated but far from faultless. Flacco is a former MVP Super Bowl who has struggled to find this unassailable form. There are cases to be done for both.
But at the Mercedes-Benz stadium, in the face of a fierce attack from the Falcons, it is the highest ranked defense of the Ravens that made its mark. There is no safety net for an offense, just like a unit capable of containing one of the NFL's most dynamic offenses at less than three meters per game, less than half of its season average .
"I think it's a testimony for these guys, these players, these coaches," said coach John Harbaugh. "You can not say it enough: Matt Ryan and the weapons they have are well established.Statistics say it.Your eye test says it.I think our defense deserves a lot of credit."
Only a late touchdown, the Falcons' only offensive score, made Ryan's numbers acceptable. He entered the match with an average of nearly 335 yards and more than two touchdowns. he finished with 131 yards and a score. Only once this season, he completed less than 68.4% of his passes. he was only 16 years old for Sunday 26, a clip of 61.5%. His 5.0 yards per attempt was a low season.
There was little relief, whether it was a 34-yard run in 15 races or an offensive line allowing three sacks and seven hits as a quarterback. Even though cornerback Jimmy Smith chained various shots and strikes, even though Clark's backup was replaced by Tony Jefferson, the Ravens (7-5) held Julio Jones' formidable trio of receivers in Atlanta, Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley to a combined total of 77 yards on eight catches.
"We have a standard for Ravens defense, whether we're at home, on a neutral site or how we want to play football," said linebacker CJ Mosley after holding the Falcons (4-8). ) 131 yards overall. The smallest Atlanta group since 1999. "And it's always been physical at the point of attack, stopping the race and finishing third after quarterback."
Never has their aggressive defense from man to man felt as simpatico as their offensive philosophy. For the third consecutive game, the Ravens have racked up more than 200 yards on the ground, unprecedented in franchise history, and have only been more impressed by Jackson's third-quarter absence due to fear. concussions.
The Ravens called 32 games more than the Falcons, whose possession time (20 minutes 21 seconds) was less than the time of a typical sitcom network episode.
"Obviously, the offense helped us, right?" Said Eric Weddle at the security. ". . . It is therefore a complementary football that we play and we must continue to turn it. "