Who’s game Thursday night for the Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Ravens moved to 5-3 with a 27-22 win at Tampa Bay while looking like the best team in the AFC North. Instead, the Buccaneers, now 3-5 after their third straight loss, looked like a team with no legitimate shot at making deep play into January.
Tampa Bay started off hot before fading in the game’s final three quarters. Baltimore’s pass rush made life miserable for Tom Brady, who surpassed Ben Roethlisberger in the first half to become the most sacked quarterback in NFL history. Lamar Jackson had a great night for the visiting quarterback as he threw two touchdown passes on 27 of 38 passing. Jackson was also part of a running game that rolled up 233 yards, which helped chew up the 38-minute game clock.
Trailing at halftime, the Ravens took the lead on third-quarter touchdown passes from Jackson to Kenyan Drake and Isaiah Likely. Baltimore scored in double figures on Devin DuVernay’s 15-yard touchdown run with 6:35 left, less than six minutes after the Buccaneers scored the first points of the half on a Ryan Succop field goal.
Brady briefly revived hope with a late touchdown pass to Julio Jones. But the Ravens recovered the ensuing onside kick and sealed the win, snapping Brady’s 302-game streak without three consecutive losses.
After making two red-zone stops in the game’s first 30 minutes, the Buccaneers went into halftime with a 10-3 lead. Tampa Bay also got a decent first half from Brady, whose 44-yard completion to Chris Godwin set up Leonard Fournette’s go-ahead touchdown midway through the first quarter.
Both teams suffered significant injuries Thursday night. The Ravens lost receiver Rashod Bateman (foot) and Mark Andrews (shoulder) for the first three quarters of the game, then Gus Edwards (hamstring) in the fourth quarter. The Bucs lost linebacker Shaquille Barrett in the second half. Barrett is feared to have suffered a torn Achilles injury. Via NFL Media.
Here’s a closer look at what happened in Tampa.
Why the Ravens won
Baltimore dominated the field while controlling the ball for more than two-thirds of the game. Led by Edwards and Drake, Baltimore dominated the ground while overcoming their first-half mistakes in the red zone. The Ravens got big contributions from Likely and DeMarcus Robinson, who caught 12 of 15 targets for 141 yards.
Defensively, the Ravens shut down Brady and the Buccaneers offense over the final three quarters of the game. Justin Houston took a sip from the Fountain of Youth, recording two sacks and two tackles. Houston and the rest of his teammates shut down Tampa Bay’s running game while holding Brady to 26 of 44 passes.
Why did the bookers lose?
Tampa Bay’s offense completely dried up after the first quarter. Giving their defense little to no rest, the unit punted five straight times. While his running game didn’t do him any favors, Brady failed to complete too many third-down passes that kept the chains moving. Fournette’s false start, which put the Buccaneers on 11 and faced fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line with 4:57 left, also hurt the Buccaneers’ offense.
While their offense didn’t help them, the Buccaneers’ defense failed to create momentum-changing plays during the second half. The Ravens were unable to contain Baltimore on the outside as they ran through Tampa Bay’s defense.
A bright spot for the Buccaneers is the connection between Brady and Mike Evans. Evans was 6 of 11 targets for 123 yards, including a 51-yard catch that set up the Buccaneers’ first score of the second half.
Baltimore dominated the third quarter, outscoring Tampa Bay 14-0 and controlling the ball for nearly 13 minutes. The Ravens offense opened the half with a 9-play, 77-yard drive that ended with Jackson’s game-tying touchdown pass to Drake.
The Ravens defense forced a quick Tampa Bay punt before Baltimore embarked on an 11-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by Jackson’s nifty touchdown pass to Likely with five seconds left in the third quarter.
Game of the game
With Andrews and Bateman out, Likely stepped up and made a crucial catch that gave the Ravens the lead for good. After having just 10 catches in his first seven catches of the season, he caught six passes for 77 yards Thursday night.
Following the win, Jackson let some of his fans speak for him. The former league MVP enjoyed a sign noting his current contract status, as Jackson is playing out under his fifth-year rookie option after he and the Ravens were unable to agree on a long-term deal this past offseason.
The Buccaneers will play host to the Rams in a rematch of a hotly contested divisional round clash in January. Like the Buccaneers, the Rams are off to a slow start this season. The defending champions finished with a 3-3 record.
Baltimore will travel to Baton Rouge on Nov. 7 to face the Saints on “Monday Night Football.” Offensive injuries have plagued the Saints so far as New Orleans is just 2-5.
“Friend of animals everywhere. Devoted analyst. Total alcohol scholar. Infuriatingly humble food trailblazer.”