Quarterback Lamar Jackson’s playmaking ability in the pocket posed the biggest problem for the Broncos as he proved he could use his arm to overcome a top-tier defense, mirroring numerous performances during his MVP campaign. (AP Photo)

By Demetrius Dillard
Special to the AFRO

The Baltimore Ravens were presented with one of its most formidable challenges against the Denver Broncos, who entered the matchup unbeaten as the NFL’s top ranked defense. 

This game, it wasn’t necessarily a steady, relentless ground attack that the Ravens used as their primary offensive weapon. Rather, quarterback Lamar Jackson’s playmaking ability in the pocket posed the biggest problem for the Broncos as he proved he could use his arm to overcome a top-tier defense, mirroring numerous performances during his MVP campaign.

Jackson led the way once again for the Ravens, completing 22 of 37 passes for 316 yards and a touchdown and receiver Marquise Brown bounced back from a rough outing last week to record receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown to propel the Ravens to a 23-7 win over the Broncos at Empower Field on Oct. 3.

Aside from Jackson’s noteworthy evening, the Ravens’ defense posted a season-best performance, garnering considerable attention from the football sphere. Holding the Broncos to a season-low seven points was only the sixth time in the last decade that Denver has been limited to single digits at home, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

Ironically, most of the chatter surrounding the Week 4 matchup was centered around Denver’s defense, which entered the contest allowing an NFL-low 8.6 points per game. 

Conversely, Baltimore allowed 28.3 points per game entering Sunday afternoon but went on to hold Denver scoreless in the second half while scoring two unanswered touchdowns and three field goals between the second and fourth quarters.

The afternoon’s most impressive play was a 49-yard strike from Jackson to Brown, who made the diving touchdown catch to put the Ravens ahead 14-7 in the second quarter.

Competing on Denver’s home turf was hostile territory for Baltimore, which was expected. The hostility exacerbated when the Ravens made a play at the end of the game that made history, but was unnecessary in the eyes of many.

With the win already sealed and three seconds left on the game clock, the Ravens needed only four yards to tie the NFL record for consecutive games (43) with at least 100 rushing yards. Jackson took the snap, and instead of kneeling as most players would do, he followed the instructions of the coaching staff and ran five yards to keep the streak alive. 

“We didn’t expect to get the ball back, but I had already decided … We decided that if we got the ball back, we were going to try to get the yards,” Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said.

“That’s one of those things that’s meaningful. As a head coach, you have to be mindful of your players and your coaches and what it means to them.”

Denver quarterback Teddy Bridgewater went down just before halftime with a concussion which was obviously unfortunate for the Broncos, but was somewhat of a relief for the Ravens, knowing their opponent was without its top playmaker for the latter half of the game.

Baltimore forced a turnover, tallied 152 more yards of offense than Denver and limited the Broncos’ run game, outperforming them in nearly every aspect of the game to win its third straight. It’s still early in the year, but one could argue that the Ravens are shaping into mid-season form despite the injuries and missing key players.

This week, the Ravens will prepare for its second Monday Night Football showdown of the season against the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 11 at 8:15 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium.

In other news: Tucker achieves another historical mark

When Ravens kicker Justin Tucker nailed a 72-yarder in warmups before facing the Denver Broncos, that was a great sign for Baltimore. 

The 10th-year player has made history again. Just last week, he kicked an NFL-record 66-yard field goal in Detroit. This week against the Broncos, he became the fastest player to reach 300 made field goals after making a 46-yarder in the fourth quarter. 

Tucker reached the career mark in 148 games. Stephen Gostkowski, who previously held the record, reached 300 career field goals in 167 games — all of which were with the New England Patriots.

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