Ravens crush Seahawks, 37-3, strengthen claim as NFL’s best behind dominant defense, potent rushing attack

First, it was the Detroit Lions. Sunday, it was the Seattle Seahawks.

Another much-ballyhooed matchup, another week of the Ravens winning in a rout, and doing so led by a defense that is already the best in the NFL by any number of metrics — and seemingly growing stronger by the week.

Two weeks ago, the Lions roared into M&T Bank Stadium with a 5-1 record and surrounded by talk of title contention and were completely shut down, run off the field by an explosive offensive attack on the first four drives of the game. Sunday, it was the Seahawks’ turn. It took a little longer this time, but not by much.

The Ravens held the Seahawks to a meager 151 total yards, including just 28 rushing, sacked quarterback Geno Smith four times and intercepted him once, and allowed only one third-down conversion in 12 attempts en route to a 37-3 blowout.

That allowed them to pour it on offensively, rolling up 515 yards, including 298 on the ground for the fourth-highest rushing total in franchise history.

“As a coach, it’s fulfilling because all the things you work on, all the things the guys work on, you see it transferred onto the field in a game,” coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s what you’re excited about.

“But you also understand it’s one win.”

And another statement by a team that looks more and more like a Super Bowl contender each passing week.

“We talk about dominating,” said Ravens outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who had two sacks. “That’s something we lean on each other for and we mean it.”

They continue to show it, too. Baltimore has allowed an NFL-best 13.8 points per game and leads the NFL in sacks. Safety Geno Stone’s six interceptions — he got another one on Sunday — are also the most in the league. And the Ravens are allowing a touchdown on only 8.7% of opposing drives, according to Tru Media.

Since 2000, only one defense has been better: The 2000 Ravens.

The difference between that team and this one — other than a championship, for now — is that the current version doesn’t have the kind of star power that one did. Give it time. Sunday marked the 30th straight game that the Ravens recorded at least one sack, a franchise record, as Justin Madubuike and Odafe Oweh each added a sack to go with Van Noy’s pair.

Maduibuike’s first-quarter sack of Smith on third-and-11 from the Seahawks’ 46 also ended what had been a solid drive. Baltimore didn’t score in the first quarter for the first time all season, but following the stop it marched 81 yards in 12 plays, with Gus Edwards (five carries, 52 yards) plunging in from 4 yards out for the game’s first score.

Then the Ravens’ defense struck again, with Stone intercepting Smith on a lollipop pass as the pocket began to collapse around the quarterback. On the Seahawks’ next series, Madubuike, who leads interior linemen with 7 1/2 sacks, made the tackle on another third-down attempt.

That set up another Baltimore march, this one covering 84 yards in 10 plays and ending with another Edwards touchdown, this time from 3 yards away.

With six touchdowns in his past three games, Edwards tied for the most touchdowns in a three-game span in Ravens history. The others to do so were Marcus Robinson (2003) and Willis McGahee (2009).

And just when it looked like the Seahawks might get back into the game after wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. fumbled with under a minute to go in the first half and Seattle taking over at the Ravens’ 43, the defense again snuffed out any chance of that with back-to-back sacks by Van Noy. The second forced a fumble that was recovered by the Ravens.

“That’s the turning point of the game,” Harbaugh said. “For that situation to turn out the way it did … it flipped the whole thing around. That was massive.”

And just the beginning of the end for the Seahawks.

After a pair of Justin Tucker field goals to open the second half and the Ravens up comfortably, 23-3, rookie Keaton Mitchell broke the game open with a 40-yard sprint into the end zone late in the third quarter. Then, he added a 60-yarder that helped set up Odell Beckham’s first touchdown as a Raven, a pass that came from backup quarterback Tyler Huntley after Lamar Jackson had been pulled from the game with the Ravens in control.

Mitchell, an undrafted free agent out of East Carolina whose father, Anthony, made one of the most indelible plays in Ravens history, finished with a game-high 138 yards on nine carries.

Jackson, meanwhile, did his part, too, with 60 yards on 10 rushes, while Justice Hill chipped in with 40 on 13 carries.

“You truly don’t know where they are going to go,” Seahawks defensive end Dre’Mont Jones said. “They are honest in what they do, but sometimes, you know, with the type of players they have in the backfield, the ball can go anywhere.”

It helps to have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Even without right tackle Morgan Moses, who sat because of a shoulder injury, Patrick Mekari filled in beautifully. And others, such as center Tyler Linderbaum, who was well downfield blocking on Mitchell’s 60-yard gallop, and left tackle Ronnie Stanley helped clear the way.

“It was really gratifying to get that type of performance on the ground, and I felt like we could’ve done that even more and could have definitely kept pushing the ball and keep our defense off the field and even get more time of possession,” Stanley said. “There was a lot of movement [the defense was] giving us. We had to make sure we run the right people at the right time and everyone working in unison and that goes back to our preparation.

“The second half we started to really pick up the running game a lot more and there were moments we ran the ball five plus times in a row and kept getting first down and first down. That would be demoralizing for any defense.”

And empowering for an offense that doesn’t always need to be carried by Jackson, who was an efficient 21-for-26 with 187 yards passing but was without a touchdown.

“I think this is the most talented team I’ve been a part of, the team with the most potential since I’ve been here,” said Stanley, who also played on the Ravens’ 2019 team that won 12 in a row during the regular season and ended with Jackson be named unanimous NFL Most Valuable Player. “I still believe that.”

Baltimore is playing like it, too.

“We don’t just go out there just to win,” Van Noy said. “We want to dominate and show [that] we try to be the best defense in the country. Can’t say the world because that’s crazy.”

Or not so crazy after all.

Week 10

Browns at Ravens

Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: Fox

Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM

Line: Ravens by 4 1/2


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