Sun, 28 Nov 2021

Another Roller Coaster Day For Defense Ends in Victory

Baltimore Ravens
22 Nov 2021, 22:25 GMT+10

Clifton Brown

Sunday's game was another roller coaster ride for the Ravens' defense.

They played well for long stretches, but continued to surrender big plays. They knocked a starting quarterback out of the game for the second straight week, only to be haunted by a familiar face in Chicago Bears backup quarterback Andy Dalton.

Dalton didn't ruin Baltimore's day, but he came close. His 49-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin gave Chicago a 13-9 lead with 1:41 left to play, but the Ravens defense was saved by their offense.

Backup quarterback Tyler Huntley engineered a masterful five-play, 72-yard game-winning drive that lifted the Ravens to an emotional 16-13 win, and Baltimore's entire defense could breathe a sigh of relief.

On a day when Lamar Jackson was too sick to play, it would have been a long plane ride home for Baltimore's defense if the Dalton-to-Goodwin touchdown had won the game for Chicago. Instead, the Ravens celebrated their first ever victory in Chicago, a win that lifted them to 7-3, which is an impressive record considering how much adversity they've overcome this season.

"Going into the game, there was a lot of not knowing what was going to happen," Humphrey said. "You see him (Jackson) on the plane, curled up in a ball. I look over and I'm like, 'I don't think this guy's going to be able to play.' It was just crazy.

"It was surreal. We definitely didn't want to give up that touchdown. We wanted to end it on defense. To watch Snoop [Huntley] kind of march down the field, it was special. The offense really did their thing today."

However, the Ravens' defense also overcame being shorthanded. They only dressed three healthy cornerbacks for this game - Humphrey, Tavon Young, and Chris Westry, and Young was dealing with a sore foot. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams (shoulder) also missed his third straight game.

Many players stepped up for Baltimore, including outside linebacker Tyus Bowser, who had two sacks and five tackles, making several key plays to snuff out Chicago drives.

"Tyus Bowser has been playing as good a football as any outside linebacker in the National Football League, all season long," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Everything he does, he does well."

Until Dalton entered the game after Justin Fields was injured in the third quarter, Baltimore's defense was keeping the Bears in check. But Dalton has broken Baltimore's hearts before with the Cincinnati Bengals, most notably in 2017 when his late-game touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd in Week 17 lifted Cincinnati to victory and denied Baltimore a playoff berth.

When Dalton entered the game Sunday, it sparked the Bears' offense immediately. His first pass was a 23-yard completion to Jimmy Graham. His second pass was the touchdown to Darnell Mooney, which was really just a short toss to the right flat. Mooney used his speed to do the rest for a 60-yard touchdown. Brandon Stephens and Chuck Clark both had a chance to tackle Mooney, but he found a lane between them and accelerated into the open field.

It was the ninth play of 50 yards or more that Baltimore has allowed this season, and defensive end Calais Campbell said it should have been prevented.

"We have to get that one guy down," Campbell said. "We can't let them score on that. He's a great player. He's been a heck of a player. You have to give him his respect, but at the same time, we have to find a way to make that play."

It was the second straight game that the Ravens have had more trouble with a backup quarterback than the starter. Against the Dolphins in Week 10, Tua Tagovailoa entered the game in relief of injured Jacoby Brissett and sparked Miami to victory. Dalton had a similar impact on this game, changing the tempo of the offense and taking advantage when he saw open receivers.

"I think sometimes, it's just that a new player comes in, and it gives them a spark," Campbell said. "It just happens sometimes."

Chicago's go-ahead touchdown to Goodwin was even more devastating because it put the Bears ahead with less than two minutes to play. It was fourth-and 11, and the Bears only had one timeout. Just one more defensive stop, and Baltimore would clinch the victory.

However, Dalton didn't flinch. The Ravens called an all-out blitz that left Westry in single coverage against Goodwin, who made a double move that left Westry flat-footed. Goodwin was wide open, and Soldier Field erupted as he caught the pass and took it into the end zone.

Ravens defensive players went to the sidelines wondering if that play would cost them the victory. It didn't. Huntley and the offense drove down the field and recaptured the lead.

Bowser sacked Dalton on the final play before he could launch a "Hail Mary," and the Ravens captured another emotional win.

It wasn't a perfect defensive effort, but once again Baltimore showed its resiliency. Through all the ups and downs of any game, the Ravens keep believing they will win. More often than not, they have found a way.

"Just being able to be resilient as a team, despite big plays going on, this and that, we were able to find a way to win," Bowser said. "That's the great part about this team is that we're resilient, we never give up, and we always have each other's back regardless of the situation. The main purpose is to win, and we came out with a win - that's all that matters."

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