The Baltimore Ravens cash in on the Buccaneers downfall to kick off Week 8 of the 2022 season, as they secure a 27-22 win at Raymond James Stadium to move to 5-3 on the year.
Tampa Bay Troubles
A promising first quarter from Tom Brady & Co. quickly faded as the team fell back into their disappointing ways, stalling on offense while the defense gave up yard after yard. It didn't help that first downs were hard to come by for most of the final three quarters, but the Ravens offense was given free reign as they did pretty much whatever they pleased.
Brady certainly showed that he's capable of running a smooth offense in the first 15, as the unit looked completely reinvented from last week's 3-point performance in the first quarter.
Despite a muffed punt giving the Ravens an easy field goal to start the night, the Bucs led two consecutive drives to put points on the board and take a 10-3 lead, with a FG and a touchdown from Leonard Fournette. After 5 punts and a blocked field goal, Tampa Bay held onto the one-score lead heading into the break. It was all looking up for the Bucs.
Everything changed in the second half though, as the Bucs were outscored 24-12 after starting the 3rd quarter with back-to-back punts. Brady put together a few solid drives to put a couple field goals and a touchdown on the board, but it was too little too late following 3 consecutive TD drives from Baltimore.
At times they looked like a completely different team to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from Week 7, but it's clear they still have a lot of work to do. They'll need to find their rhythm on both sides of the ball if they want to break the losing streak.
Lamar Jackson was on fire in this Thursday Night Football matchup.
The electric QB threw for 27 of 38 for 238 yards and 2 touchdowns. This didn't completely outshine the talent of Tom Brady, who went for 325 yards and a TD on the night. But the difference maker on the night was the ground game where Jacksons dual threat ability was on display, as usual.
Sure, he completed some nice throws, including a bullet to the back of the endzone to go one-score ahead. But the young buck really taught the old dog a lesson in scrambling last night and I don't think that's something we'll see Brady try any time soon... The game has been reinvented and Jackson is at the forefront of the new era.
Other than Jackson's impressive performance, there was one player who stood out in the Ravens' passing game on Thursday night.
Rookie tight end Isaiah Likely stepped in for Mark Andrews, who was sidelined with a shoulder injury. The newbie hauled in 5 of 6 targets for 77 yards to lead Baltimore in the receiving game. One of his receptions was this end zone catch to take the lead.
The Ravens ground game was their biggest success of the night, as they outrushed the Bucs 231-44. Gus Edwards and Kenyan Drake led the pack, with Jackson not too far behind. Edwards and Drake both logged just over 60 yards, but receiver Devin Duvernay was the only one to find the end zone on the ground.
Drake caught one for a touchdown to tie things up and also delivered the Ravens' biggest run of the night. The stacked backfield in Baltimore could cause a serious issue for opponents heading forward.
Highlights on the Bucs side of the ball came from reliable deep threat Mike Evans most of the time. Brady's favourite target caught 6 passes for 123 yards, while Chris Godwin logged 75 yards with equal receptions. Evans had some great grabs on the night, this was arguably his best - a sideline reception in triple coverage - props to Brady on this one.
The Bucs were also happy to welcome Julio Jones back to the turf, who should help spark this offense in the coming weeks. Despite seeing just 4 targets of the night, Jones averaged 10.5 yards per reception and caught one for a touchdown on 4th & goal. Expect to see him feature more heavily in the passing game as the season progresses.
Defensive & Special Teams Highlights
The Ravens got lucky early on, as an unsuccessful opening drive was cancelled out by a muffed punt that gave them a first down on the 6-yard line. Although they failed to find the end zone, it gave them three easy points despite a disappointing offensive display.
With no interceptions on the night, we look to the D-line and one thing that will always make the highlight reel here is Vita Vea, who recorded 4 tackles, 1 sack and 1 tackle-for-loss against the Ravens. The charismatic lineman topped things off with this celebration after his sack on Jackson.
Despite still losing, this blocked field goal at the end of the half kept the Bucs 7 points ahead going into the break. If Brady could have capitalised on the lead in their opening possession of Q3, this could have been a difference-maker for Tampa Bay.
All in all, the Buccaneers are still looking rusty all over the field. Their defense couldn't force a single turnover in the second half, while the offense lost their momentum heading into the second quarter.
Meanwhile, the Ravens put on a very strong performance, looking like the team with much more resilience and toughness to come back onto the turf after a disappointing first half to score double the points of Tampa.
Baltimore now sit atop the AFC North with the Bengals hot on their tails - but with Cincy's star receiver Ja'Marr Chase potentially out for the season, it'll be a big hit to their electric offense.
On the other hand, the Bucs fall below the Falcons in the NFC South. If Mariota and company can land the division title, perhaps it is time for Brady to call it quits?