OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP)Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens closed out this game just fine.
There was a brief stretch in the third quarter when another lead started slipping away, but Jackson steadied his team quickly and the Ravens went on to a 24-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday in London.
“The margin is very thin in this league. It’s razor thin,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said Monday after returning to the U.S. “Everybody is right around .500 or just above .500 or just below .500 – in terms of talent and ability and coaching and all that other kind of stuff – so the difference is week to week.
“It’s your ability to persist, overcome, come up with a good game plan, execute the game plan, and then really make plays.”
Baltimore (4-2) leads the AFC North, although the Ravens feel their start could have even better. Mistakes and late-game mismanagement led to losses to Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, the latter of which came a week before the matchup with the Titans.
So when Baltimore allowed an 18-3 halftime lead to turn into an 18-13 advantage in the third quarter against Tennessee, the pressure was on. A three-and-out on the Ravens’ next possession didn’t help matters.
But Geno Stone intercepted a pass, and Jackson led Baltimore to two field goals on drives that took a total of 24 plays.
Perhaps fittingly for a game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the kickers did most of the scoring. Justin Tucker had six field goals for Baltimore.
Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton received the American football version of a red card when he was ejected for a third-quarter hit on receiver Chris Moore.
“It was definitely a flag-able penalty,” Harbaugh said. “It was helmet to helmet. The one thing I do know is that Kyle certainly didn’t intend to do that. He was coming over trying to play the ball, and their helmets hit, and it was forceable. So it should have been flagged. Beyond that, it’s really a judgement call.”
Jackson had a sharp day passing aside from one interception in the third quarter, and he also led the team with 62 yards rushing, some of them in big situations. The Ravens went 8 of 16 on third down while Tennessee was 1 of 9. A few of those conversions came courtesy of Jackson’s legs.
Baltimore’s defense continues to excel in a number of ways. The only touchdown the Ravens allowed came on a 25-yard drive after the interception. Baltimore finished with six sacks and held Tennessee to 233 yards of offense.
The one obvious issue was penalties, which accounted for eight of the Titans’ 17 first downs.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The red zone was a problem for a second straight week. Five of Tucker’s field goals were 36 yards or shorter.
After a drop-filled mess of a performance against Pittsburgh, Baltimore’s receivers were solid against the Titans. Zay Flowers caught a 10-yard pass from Jackson for the lone Ravens TD and aside from one interception by Jackson, the offense played a clean game.
Gus Edwards managed just 41 yards on 16 carries. Baltimore’s difficulty running the ball with its non-quarterbacks contributed to its problems in punching the ball into the end zone.
“We were running into some big fronts there,” Harbaugh said. “We tried to spread them out. They didn’t cooperate quite as much in terms of spreading out.”
The Ravens withstood Hamilton’s ejection and a hamstring injury to fellow safety Marcus Williams. Harbaugh said Williams is “iffy” for this week. … Linebacker Malik Harrison went into concussion protocol. … Harbaugh didn’t sound terribly optimistic about the possible return of veteran linebacker Tyus Bowser (knee), who hasn’t played at all this season. “I’m going to let Tyus comment on that. That’s gotten a little more complicated over the last couple of weeks,” he said. “I’m really not at liberty to talk about it right now, but at some point in time, I’m sure we’ll have an announcement on that one way or another. He has to make some choices and decisions.”
70-46 – That was Baltimore’s advantage in total offensive plays. The Ravens started fast, as they’ve done all season, and maintained control of the game aside from that brief stretch in the second half when Tennessee scored a field goal and touchdown a minute apart.
The Ravens host the Detroit Lions (5-1) this coming weekend. Baltimore won’t get to enjoy an open date after its trip across the ocean. The Ravens have Week 13 off instead.
“We didn’t really want to have a bye too early,” Harbaugh said. “They gave us the late bye and an early game in London. So that’s just the way it worked. We like the later bye.”
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