Baltimore Ravens earn third straight win, knock out New Orleans Saints

Baltimore Ravens earn third straight win, knock out New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS – The Baltimore Ravens (6-3) won their third in a row and fourth of their last five with a 27-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints, extending their lead atop the AFC North.

Baltimore’s defense controlled the game, recording four sacks, including 2.5 by Justin Houston.

The Saints (3-6) have lost three of four.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens’ defense delivered its most dominant performance of the season when the team needed it most. The Ravens held the Saints to 243 yards, the fewest for New Orleans this season.

Outside linebacker Justin Houston delivered 2.5 sacks and an interception in the fourth quarter. He became the first player in Ravens history with three consecutive games with multiple sacks. Houston was the team’s best point guard, as the defense only allowed a touchdown with four minutes left in the game.

It was a timely effort on the part of the defense as their offense is extremely battered. Lamar Jackson played without Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews (inactive with shoulder and knee injuries), No. 1 wide receiver Rashod Bateman (out for the season with a foot injury) and his two top running backs (JK Dobbins is on injured reserve with a knee injury and Gus Edwards was inactive with a hamstring injury). Still, the Ravens have won their third straight game and head to the afterlife with a one-game lead over the Cincinnati Bengals for first place in the AFC North.

Pivot play: Houston interception in the fourth quarter. With 8:24 left in the game, the Ravens sealed their fourth win in five games with the type of game-closing play that had eluded them this season. Defensive end Brent Urban deflected Andy Dalton’s pass and Houston made the interception. Baltimore quickly converted that turnover into Kenyan Drake’s second touchdown, giving the Ravens a 27-6 lead. It was Baltimore’s 11th straight game with a forced turnover, which is the longest active streak in the NFL. Houston is the first player in Ravens history to record 2.5 sacks and an interception in the same game.

Promising trend: The Ravens continue to be one of the fastest teams in the NFL. Baltimore became the first team to lead by double digits at any time in each of its first nine games of a season since the 2011 Green Bay Packers, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The Ravens are only the third team to do so in the past 20 years, joining the 2009 New Orleans Saints and 2011 Packers – both of which started 9-0. It shows how close the Ravens were to a perfect start had they not had three fourth-quarter meltdowns.

Silver Lining: Jackson was distributing the ball. Without his two main targets – Andrews and Bateman – Jackson became more unpredictable in the distribution of the ball. He hit eight different players on his first eight passes and finished with 10-man throws, tying a career high. Andrews and Bateman accounted for 39% of the Ravens’ receptions in the first eight games, and while Baltimore was more dangerous with them, the Ravens looked more even without them. — Jamison Hensley

Underestimated statistics namely: Jackson is the second player in NFL history to record 100 passing touchdowns and 20 rushing touchdowns before turning 26, joining Josh Allen. Both were drafted in 2018.

Next game: vs. Panthers (1 p.m. ET, Nov. 20)

New Orleans Saints

The Saints (3-6) hoped to have turned a corner after their dominating performance against the Las Vegas Raiders last week. Instead, they were simply let down by a prime-time loss.

Many of the same issues the Saints dealt with earlier in the season have returned. Quarterback Andy Dalton struggled and the offensive line failed to protect him, especially after center Erik McCoy lost to injury. Dalton certainly didn’t help his long-term case as the Saints’ starting quarterback by throwing a late interception, nor was he helped by the Saints’ running game, which didn’t worked well against the Ravens defense as New Orleans gained just 48 yards.

The Saints had mostly no answers for Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who made a number of impressive plays to evade tackles all night. Now the Saints will have to regroup on a short week with the Pittsburgh Steelers next on the road.

QB Breakdown: Saints coach Dennis Allen was committed to Dalton at quarterback as long as the offense kept working, and that certainly went a long way against the Ravens. Dalton needed a big game to prove that all three primetime interceptions against the Cardinals in Week 7 were a fluke, but instead the offense spat again. Dalton doubled his sack total for the season and was knocked out in the fourth quarter. He will also lament the absence of a wide open Marquez Callaway in the end zone at the end of the first half. Callaway had 5.95 yards of separation on the play, making it only the second incompleteness this season on a throw in the end zone with more than 5 yards of separation.

Disturbing trend: The injury bug came back to bite the Saints again, with McCoy, starting linebacker Pete Werner and starting defensive end Marcus Davenport all gone with injuries. The Saints have been shorthanded all season, especially on the attacking side of the ball, so it would be another blow if all three find themselves out for a while. Losing Werner would hurt the most, as he made a huge leap forward in his second season and was a key part of the defence. – Katherine Terrell

Underestimated statistics namely: Dalton has a .231 prime-time winning percentage (6-20), the worst of any quarterback since 2000. Kerry Collins is 5-16 for a .238 winning percentage.

Next game: at Steelers (1 p.m. ET, Nov. 13)

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