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2022 NFL season, Week 9: What We Learned from Ravens' win over Saints on Monday night

Baltimore Ravens
2022 · 6-3-0
New Orleans Saints
2022 · 3-6-0

  1. Baltimore's offense is finding its groove. The Ravens needed just one drive to work out the kinks before launching one of their most impressive, methodical scoring campaigns of the season. It began on Baltimore's second possession, in which the Ravens covered 76 yards in 11 plays, gaining five first downs and converting three third-down attempts. A statement of a drive ended with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Lamar Jackson to rookie tight end Isaiah Likely, setting the tone for another productive night. Four of Baltimore's five scoring drives required at least eight plays, and the only quick-strike possession came after a takeaway that put the Ravens on New Orleans' 17-yard line. The style in which the Ravens scored was perhaps the most impressive part of it all. Jackson connected with 10 different targets on a night in which he didn't have Mark Andrews or Rashod Bateman at his disposal. Add in Kenyan Drake's 93 yards and two touchdowns on 24 attempts, plus Jackson's 11 carries for 82 yards, and you have a well-balanced offense that can attack from any angle. It gave the Saints fits and ultimately propelled the Ravens to an emphatic win on national television.
  2. Justin Houston is on fire. The edge rusher is 33 years old but certainly doesn't look like it, making it three straight games with at least two sacks. He finished with 2.5 on Monday night, and his most important play effectively put the game away in the fourth quarter when he caught a pass deflected by Brent Urban, adding an interception to his already-impressive night. After the game, Jackson called Houston a Hall of Famer. He certainly played like one on Monday night.
  3. It's time to move on from Andy Dalton. The Saints have slow-played Jameis Winston's return for more than a month, and at 3-6, they need to take a hard look at their current standing and decide whether they'd be better off turning back to Winston from here on out. Though his stat line might not indicate it, Dalton struggled throughout the night, completing 19 of 29 passes for 210 yards, one touchdown and one fateful interception. He missed a wide open Marquez Callaway just before halftime in a situation in which the Saints desperately needed a touchdown, and his only touchdown pass of the night came as a result of Baltimore giving up on a live play because they mistakenly believed Juwan Johnson stepped out of bounds. Alvin Kamara (nine carries, 30 yards) can't carry this offense by himself, especially without the aid of Mark Ingram, and Dalton has proven he isn't capable of elevating the Saints enough to keep them competitive.
  4. Injuries continue to mount for New Orleans. The Saints were already playing without both Marshon Lattimore and Bradley Roby on Monday night, and the injury bug didn't show any mercy. Center Erik McCoy left in the first half due to injury and didn't return, defensive end Marcus Davenport went to the locker room with a calf ailment and linebacker Pete Werner was carted off. New Orleans' receiving corps -- once seen as a revamped strength of this team -- is down two of its top three receivers (Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry), leaving rookie Chris Olave on an island with Callaway and Johnson drifting away from the shore. Add in four sacks of Dalton and you have a team that is clearly missing its top talent, which shows in its three losses in its last four games.
  5. Ravens continue to build momentum. Mike Macdonald deserves some credit for getting this defense together in recent weeks. After blowing multiple double-digit leads early in the season, the Ravens have figured out how to close games, allowing 18.3 points per contest in each of the last three weeks. They held on to defeat Cleveland at home, then hit the road to take down two NFC South opponents in Tampa and New Orleans, and Monday night may have been their best performance of the season. Houston played a big part in their success, of course, but so did Macdonald's timely blitz calls, which shut down multiple touchdown-scoring chances for New Orleans, forcing the Saints to settle for field goals. The addition of Roquan Smith helped, too, but this is a total team effort that is producing winning football. In an AFC North that is far from decided, that could prove to be essential.

Next Gen stat of the game: Justin Houston finished with five quarterback pressures and 2.5 sacks on 22 pass rushes, tying for the third-most in a game for Houston since 2021.

NFL Research: With Lamar Jackson's 82 rushing yards and Andy Dalton's five on "Monday Night Football," all NFL quarterbacks combined to rush for 801 yards in Week 9. That total breaks the record for the most combined rush yards by quarterbacks in a single week in NFL history, besting the previous mark of 787 set in Week 15 of the 2020 season.

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