OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP)Lamar Jackson certainly shook off the rust quickly.
If last weekend’s game is any indication of his comfort level in Baltimore’s new offense, the Ravens could be on their way to quite a season.
Jackson went 24 of 33 for 237 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for 54 yards in Baltimore’s 27-24 win at Cincinnati on Sunday. The victory left the Ravens two games ahead of the team that knocked them out of the playoffs a season ago – and the team that has won the AFC North two years running.
While it wasn’t a spectacular game statistically, Jackson kept drives moving and eventually picked up a big first down with his legs toward the end. He also had a couple big runs negated by penalties.
And according to Next Gen Stats, he has taken an average of 2.60 seconds to throw the ball through the first two games this season under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. He averaged 2.96 seconds during his first four seasons as a starter.
“He’s doing a really good job of seeing the field, and that is pretty much reflective of the offense, I think,” coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “That’s what he’s being asked to do now, and he’s doing it really well. There’s times when he holds it more, pushing the ball downfield and all that. Other times – more often – the ball’s coming out on time and in rhythm.”
Jackson turned the ball over twice in a tedious 25-9 win over Houston in Week 1, but in a much more challenging environment in Cincinnati, he combined efficient passing with purposeful running and Baltimore finished with 415 yards of offense. That was despite missing running back J.K. Dobbins, out for the season because of a torn Achilles tendon, and two starting offensive linemen.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Ravens have looked OK defending the pass through two weeks despite injuries to cornerback Marlon Humphrey (foot) and safety Marcus Williams (pectoral). Safety Geno Stone intercepted a pass deep in Baltimore territory in the third quarter in what was a major turning point in the game against the Bengals.
“Every Ravens fan should be really happy with the way the corners played. You’re going against arguably the most talented receiver group in the league with a great quarterback,” Harbaugh said. “We didn’t back off. We didn’t. We played our game. We played press man. We played zone, press zone. We played cloud zone. We bailed. We played off at times. We played zero. We played everything we play, and those guys played exceptionally well.”
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Special teams is often a strength for Baltimore, but that wasn’t the case last weekend. Justin Tucker can be forgiven for missing a 59-yard field goal, but the bigger concern was a touchdown Cincinnati scored on a punt return in the first half.
“That was on us all the way,” Harbaugh said. “We made numerous mistakes on that. It was really poor coverage on our part.”
Nelson Agholor signed with the Ravens in March, but was quickly overshadowed by Baltimore’s other big additions at wide receiver – Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Zay Flowers. On Sunday, however, Agholor made a significant contribution with five catches for 63 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown.
“We’re going to need everyone. We showed that today,” Jackson said after the game. “Everyone touching the ball, getting yards after the catch, keeping the chains moving.”
Defensive tackle Justin Madubuike was flagged for roughing the passer against Cincinnati – after being called for two facemasks and a holding penalty in the opener.
Harbaugh said Williams is not having surgery for his injury and isn’t going on injured reserve.
“There’s sort of a vague timeframe right now, but I just don’t want to put it out there then everybody will be mad at me later,” he said.
Harbaugh did not have much of an update on Beckham and linebacker Odafe Oweh, who injured his ankles.
23 – The number of yards Baltimore’s defense has allowed in the first quarter this season. The Ravens yielded 9 against Houston and 14 to Cincinnati. Baltimore didn’t allow a first down in either of those first quarters.
The Ravens host Indianapolis this weekend, with Colts rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson recovering from a concussion.
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