The Ravens were gashed for 4 long runs that totaled 116 of the Vikings 131 rushing yards. Let’s review:
- (Q1, 10:30): WR Justin Jefferson took a jet sweep right following blocks by RT Brian O’Neill on Queen, WR KJ Osborn on Clark, and FB CJ Ham on Bynes for RR11
- (Q1, 9:53): RB Dalvin Cook burst untouched through a gaping hole where Elliott made a great open-field tackle. LG Ezra Cleveland sealed Madubuike, LT Christian Darrisaw blocked Queen, FB Ham kicked out Houston, and RG Olisaemeka Udoh blocked Bynes for Cook RM15.
- (Q1, 3:26): On 3rd/1, RB Cook ran RR66 avoiding Clark and Humphrey downfield after following blocks from WR Osborn who sealed Oweh on right edge, RT O’Neill who sealed Averett then pancaked Bynes with one arm, and RG Udoh who blocked of Elliott.
- (Q4, 2:22): C Mason Cole blocked Ellis, TE Tyler Conklin pancaked Oweh, LT Darrisaw blocked Queen, and WR Jefferson blocked Humphrey to lead RB Cook RR24
The Vikings other 19 running plays from offensive formations combined for 6 total yards (0.3 YPC).
Brandon Williams is one of the Ravens important run defenders and the Ravens have often looked outmatched without him. The Vikings depended on barbell results for good rush numbers with more than half their rushing yards coming on Cook’s 66-yard run off the right end. Excluding the fake punt, they did not have a single run between 5 and 10 yards.
Missed tackles differ substantially by definition, but this was a game where I did not record a note for a missed tackle on a pass or run play. Geno Stone was unable to bring down Nwangwu on the fake punt that went for a 9-yard run.
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
The Ravens dominated this game in terms of time of possession (46:04 to 23:40), offensive plays run (89-51 excluding the fake punt), and first downs (36-13).
The 36 first downs exceeded the previous franchise record by 4. In the long history of the NFL, there have been only 8 instances of 37 or more first downs in a single game (all 37-40).
Only once previously in the regular season had the Ravens run 89 or more offensive snaps (91 at SD in the 11/25/12 OT win versus the Chargers highlighted by Ray Rice’s 4th-and-29 conversion). They ran 92 snaps in the loss to the Titans in the AFC divisional round after the 2019 season.
Note: all snap totals exclude penalties resulting in no play, kneels, spikes, and specials team plays resulting in a run or pass. As such, they will be lower than other published totals.
The Vikings ran 51 such snaps.
Base (24): The Ravens used their base 3-4 defense with 2 ILB and 2 OLB on the bulk of 12 and 21 personnel looks versus the Vikings. Among 14 run plays were 11 defensive wins totaling -2 yards (gains of -3, 4, 1, 3, 3, -1, -1, 0, -8, 1, -1) and 3 losses (gains of 11, 15, 24). The Vikings gained 51 yards on 10 pass plays vs base. 24 plays, 99 yards, 4.1 YPP.
Standard Nickel (14): Martindale again used the standard nickel (including 2 down linemen, 2 OLB, and 2 ILB) as the most common response to 11 personnel. Tavon Young played all but 1 nickel snap (Q1, 2:30, Jimmy Smith). 14 plays, 114 yards, 8.1 YPP.
Rush Nickel (1): The Ravens lined up with 1 DL, 3 OLB, 2 ILB, and 5 DB on 4th and 9 (Q4, 1:15). This was a situation where the Ravens would typically deploy the dime package, but Elliott had been injured just a few plays earlier. Martindale was faced with a decision to insert Stone as the 3rd safety or Queen as the 2nd ILB. He chose Queen this time, but in overtime (OT, 5:27) he inserted Stone in a similar 3rd-and-9 situation. 1 play, 12 yards, 12.0 YPP.
Jumbo Nickel (1): The Ravens lined up with 3 down linemen, 2 OLB, and 1 ILB on 2nd and 1 at the 1-yard line (Q4, 1:06). Cousins threw to Thielen for the game-tying score. 1 play, 1 yard, 1.0 YPP.
Rush Dime (8): The Ravens lined up with 1 DL, 3 OLB, 1 ILB, and 6 DB on 8 obvious passing downs (all 3rd and 6+). Chris Board was the sole ILB on each of these plays. The Vikings converted their first 3 snaps against this package (50-yard TD on 3/7, PM7 on 3/6,and PM20 on 3/9). After those, the Ravens stopped the Vikings on their last 5 dime looks, including the final Vikings offensive play (OT, 5:27). 8 plays, 82 yards, 10.3 YPP.
Jumbo (3): The Ravens played 3 snaps (excluding Board’s DPI) with 4 down linemen, 2 OLB, 3 ILB, and 2 DB (Humphrey and Clark). All of these occurred beginning with the Vikings situated 3rd and goal at the Ravens 2 (Q2, 14:21). The Vikings gained just 1 yard, but it was the one needed for Cousins’ QB-sneak TD. 3 plays, 1 yard, 0.3 YPP.
Martindale employed a modestly aggressive pass rush by number of rushers vs Cousins, who has a reputation of being bothered by pressure. However, in terms of deceptive elements he was again conservative.
For the game, Cousins had ATS on 12 of 28 drop backs (43%) resulting in a pass or sack. He also had 4 ball out quick (BOQ) instances (14%) and the Ravens generated 12 pressure events (43%) within 3 seconds. By pressure situation:
ATS: 9/12 for 106 yards (7.8 YPP)
BOQ: 3/4 for 35 yards (8.8 YPP)
Pressured: 5/12 for 46 net yards (3.8 YPP)
Summarizing by number of pass rushers:
4: 18 plays, 130 yards, 7.2 YPP
5: 8 plays, 56 yards, 7.0 YPP
6+: 2 plays, 1 yard, 0.5 YPP
Total: 28 plays, 187 yards, 6.7 YPP
The Ravens rushed 5+ on 10 of 28 drop backs (36%) on which the Vikings averaged 5.7 YPP. Martindale sent 8-man pressure on the 1-yard TD pass to Thielen (Q4, 1:06). He sent 7-man pressure on the Vikings last offensive play (OT, 5:27) and Clark delivered a drive-ending pressure that forced Cousins to throw the ball away.
Martindale called just 5 individual blitzes the entire game (0.18 per pass play) from a player who was either outside the slot receiver or more than 1.5 yards off the LoS at the snap. Of those 5 passes, 2 were completed for 28 total yards.
The Ravens used 2 stunts versus the Vikings, which included the 50-yard TD to Jefferson and another 5-yard completion on 3rd and 18.
The Ravens showed simulated pressure 7 times where 2 or 3 dropped from the LoS, including the 50-yard TD to Jefferson and 87 total yards (14.4 per play)
I define a deceptive pass rush as incorporating 2 or more of the above elements (off-ball blitzes, stunts, and simulated pressures). The Ravens ran 4 deceptive rushes which went for a total of 55 yards (13.8 YPP).
Justin Houston led the Ravens with 3 QHs in 21 pass snaps. Justin Madubuike had 1 QH and 2 pressures among 14 pass plays.
Other Individual Notes
- Patrick Queen (37 snaps) finished with 4 tackles, including the scintillating takedown for Cook for a loss of 8 (Q4, 9:19). He also drew offensive pass interference on Jefferson (Q3, 8:34). While he was blocked or lost in the wash on each of the 4 long run plays, he did not have any missed tackles or coverage gaffes I noted. He’s playing much faster at WLB over the last 3 weeks and both keying off Bynes and making good decisions of his own.
- Justin Ellis (37 snaps) endured a heavy workload (1 less snap than Campbell) as the Ravens only active NT. He delivered a QH and did not have any big point-of-attack losses that I noted.
- Khalil McKenzie added valuable flexibility as the 8th OL who also played 4 defensive snaps on the 2nd Vikings drive, primarily in jumbo packages.
- McPhee (3 snaps) and Ferguson (7) were both active among 5 OLBs but the Ravens never used a 4-OLB package. The Vikings combined for just 10 total yards on the 10 snaps where either was on the field.
- It was a difficult game for Odafe Oweh. In addition to losing the right edge to WR Osborn on Cook’s 66-yard run, he did not generate a pressure in 18 pass snaps.
- The Ravens shut down Adam Thielen for 2 catches on 5 targets for just 6 total yards. Anthony Averett allowed a 1-yard TD on a play where Thielen should have been flagged for offensive pass interference. Josh Bynes also took him down for PM5 (Q3, 6:25). Thielen had been averaging 67 yards with no fewer than 39 yards in any game.
- The loss of DeShon Elliott is another gut punch to the Ravens defense. He had been a steadying presence on the back end and contributed significantly to the pass rush. The Ravens will probably use Geno Stone on the back end for the dime package the rest of the season with Stephens taking over Elliott’s FS role. Ar’Darius Washington should be active and provide flexibility as the 4th safety and backup SCB.
- (Q1, 10:30): He was blocked by FB Ham, but made tackle on WR Jefferson RR11
- (Q1, 9:53): He was blocked by RG Udoh on RB Cook RM15
- (Q1, 3:26): He was pancaked by RT O’Neill in L2 on RB Cook RR66
- (Q1, 2:30): He took down RB Alexander Mattison PM3 (3 + 0)  immediately after catch
- (Q1, 1:53): He assisted Madubuike on tackle of RB Mattison RM1
- (Q2, 14:21): He assisted Queen on tackle of RB Cook RL0 to deny 3rd/2
- (Q2, 8:30): He shot in to undercut RB Mattison RM2 with the right side wide open on 2nd/3
- (Q2, 7:56): On the next play, 3rd/1, he initially stood up RB Cook RM-1 before help arrived
- (Q2, 2:41): He closed quickly to push RB Cook OOB for PL4 (0 + 4) 
- (Q2, 1:41): He shot through the right C gap to tackle RB Cook RM-1 with Bowser
- (Q3, 8:09): He lost coverage of TE Conklin on PM18 (6 + 12)  but pursued for the tackle
- (Q3, 6:25): With ATS, he made a fast tackle of WR Adam Thielen for PM5 (3 + 2) 
- (Q4, 8:35): On 2nd/18, with ATS he elevated to tip and nearly intercepted Cousins’ pass for WR Jefferson which Humphrey ensured was not collected
- (Q4, 2:56): On 2nd/4, he penetrated the right C-gap to submarine FB Ham RM1 with Campbell
Josh continued to display excellent play speed and closed effectively on downhill pass pays. His PD was one of the few times this season a Raven ILB has impacted a pass intended for a receiver behind him.
- (Q1, 9:53): He was blocked by LG Cleveland on RB Cook RM15
- (Q1, 9:18): He beat C Cole right for a fast QH as Cousins threw PL6 to RB Cook
- (Q1, 4:05): He was quick off the snap and bulled RG Udoh for pressure on PM5
- (Q1, 1:53): He bulled then shed LG Cleveland to tackle RB Mattison RM1 with Bynes
- (Q2, 3:15): He beat RT O’Neill inside to tackle RB Mattison RM0
- (Q2, 1:37): He bulled then pancaked RG Udoh to pressure Cousins to throw incomplete off back foot
- (Q3, 5:52): On 2nd/10, he drew a drive-stalling hold from LG Cleveland to negate RB Cook RL5
Justin was the Ravens best defender in the first half. He used his quickness and powerful arms to provide pressure and make 2 stops on run plays for gains of 1 and 0.
- (Q2, 1:41): He held the right edge vs. TE Conklin and assisted Clark to tackle RB Cook RM-1
- (Q2, 0:19): On the fake kneel, he remained aware and bulled then shed TE Conklin to tackle RB Cook RL0 with Washington
- (Q3, 8:39): With ATS, he knocked down Cousins’ pass for TE Conklin in the flat, 2 yards 
- (Q3, 8:09): On 2nd/20, he beat RG Udoh outside for a fast QH as Cousins threw PM18
- (Q3, 4:46): On 3rd/11, he bulled then swiped past RT O’Neill inside for pressure as Cousins threw incomplete 3 yards 
- (OT, 6:10): On 2nd/ 8, he beat TE Luke Stocker to contain RB Cook RL-1
Tyus was not at or near the point of attack on any of the long runs, set the edge well, and contributed 2 pressure events despite dropping to coverage on approximately half of his 25 pass plays.
- Josh Bynes
- Justin Madubuike
- Tyus Bowser
Honorable mention to Calais Campbell, Justin Ellis, Justin Houston, Anthony Averett, DeShon Elliott, and Marlon Humphrey