Here’s what the Baltimore Sun sports staff had to say immediately after the Ravens’ 27-22 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Thursday night’s Week 8 game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
Childs Walker, reporter: Once they remembered who they were supposed to be, the Ravens dominated the Buccaneers.
They ran seven times for 27 yards in the first half, 24 times for 206 yards in the second half. They played most of the game without Lamar Jackson’s top two targets, Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman, but offensive coordinator Greg Roman called a terrific second half, leaning on run-pass options and finding clever ways to get the ball to the team’s best remaining playmaker, Devin Duvernay. Rookie Isaiah Likely stepped in for Andrews and played the best game of his career.
The Ravens’ defense made the comeback possible, pressing Tom Brady into an inefficient game. Veteran outside linebacker Justin Houston has made a huge difference since he came back from a groin injury in Week 7.
The Ravens have subjected us to plenty of unsightly offense in recent weeks, but their first-half performance took the cake. They came away from a pair of red-zone possessions with three points total, their running game was non-existent and Jackson rarely had time to look downfield against Tampa Bay’s blitzes. But they figured it out and came up with a huge win. They will play just once between now and the third weekend in November, meaning their injured players will have time to get well for a stretch run full of sub-.500 opponents.
Ryan McFadden, reporter: In the first half, it appeared the Ravens were on the verge of a dreadful evening, as the offense struggled to get anything going while tight end Mark Andrews suffered a shoulder injury. In the second half, they played on another level, outscoring Tampa Bay 24-12. Rookie tight end Isaiah Likely looked like the player we saw in the preseason, while Lamar Jackson played at an MVP-level in the second half.
The Ravens’ ability to run the ball dictated Thursday’s outcome. After rushing just seven times in the first half, the Ravens outgained the Buccaneers 206-18 on the ground in the second.
C.J. Doon, editor: This game pretty much told the story of the entire Ravens season. The defense looked pathetic on the Buccaneers’ opening drive, then frustrated Tom Brady for three-and-a-half quarters. The offense stalled in the first half, particularly in the red zone, then put together some of its most impressive drives of the season to take the lead. Lamar Jackson mixed in some head-scratching moments with some dazzling plays. Injuries piled up, again. It all added up to a much-needed win ahead of an 11-day break before a Monday night game against the Saints. Considering how bleak things looked in the first quarter, this was an impressive turnaround.
Tim Schwartz, editor: Considering everything … the lethargic first half, injuries to three of their top offensive weapons in tight end Mark Andrews, wide receiver Rashod Bateman and running back Gus Edwards, and playing against Tom Brady on the road on a short week, this is a monster win for the Ravens. This team has so many flaws, especially with injuries again starting to mount, but they have Lamar Jackson at quarterback, and sometimes that’s enough. It took a few injuries but they finally got Devin Duvernay the ball in space on an end-around for a late touchdown, and preseason superstar tight end Isaiah Likely showed that dominant August was no fluke with his first career touchdown and 77 yards on six catches. Even wide receiver Demarcus Robinson made some key plays. The Ravens are fortunate they have some extra time to rest up with just one game in 23 days. The schedule looks very favorable for Baltimore to make a move in the AFC North.