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The Ravens will enter their Week 8 bye as the AFC North’s prohibitive favorites with a quarterback who ranks among the NFL’s rushing leaders and a rejiggered defense still searching for last season’s magic.

So it figures that in their most impressive result of the season, Sunday’s 30-16 road win over the Seattle Seahawks, nothing about the process was normal. The Ravens’ first two touchdowns, and perhaps the game’s two decisive plays, came with the help of the NFL’s top passer and an aborted fourth-down decision.

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Cornerback Marcus Peters returned an interception 67 yards for a touchdown just five days after the Ravens traded for him — and did so against Russell Wilson, an NFL Most Valuable Player favorite who hadn’t thrown a pick all season. Quarterback Lamar Jackson’s 8-yard touchdown run materialized only after a sideline discussion with coach John Harbaugh that prompted the arrival of the Ravens’ heaviest personnel grouping all season.

How they broke through is a little more complicated.

The pick-six

Wilson had his best game of the season two weeks before his worst one. In a 30-29 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 3, Wilson went 17-for-23 for 268 yards and four touchdowns, along with 32 rushing yards. His 151.8 passer rating was just shy of perfect and the second highest of his career.

On two of the touchdowns, Peters was within shouting distance of the receiver when he crossed the goal line. But it was a rather inconsequential 7-yard completion that might’ve mattered most in their reunion Sunday.

Two days before Peters returned to CenturyLink Field, Harbaugh was asked whether his new cornerback’s recent experience with Seattle might help with his crash course in Ravens Defense 101. Harbaugh said it probably would, but that it’s “never a difference-maker or anything like that.”

With the Ravens trailing midway through the second quarter, it might’ve made just enough of a difference. On third-and-6, the Seahawks lined up in an empty backfield — two wide receivers to Wilson’s left and a tight end and two wide receivers to his right. Peters, like every Ravens defensive back except safety Earl Thomas III, appeared to be in press coverage. He matched up near the right sideline with outside receiver Jaron Brown.

At the snap of the ball, Brown took one step before sitting in the flat, no doubt hoping Peters would stick with him there. But Peters did not. He said afterward that he’d seen this pass concept two weeks ago. On Sunday, Peters was playing an “off-zone-type of a coverage,” according to Harbaugh, and was well positioned to handle both routes in the so-called China play: Brown’s short hitch route and slot receiver Tyler Lockett’s corner route.

In the second quarter Sunday, Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters (circled) picked off a pass from Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and returned it for a touchdown. After helping to deter Wilson from targeting Seattle wide receiver Tyler Lockett on a downfield route against cornerback Marlon Humphrey, Peters drove back to wide receiver Jaron Brown in the flat. Wilson's pass arrived late, but Peters knew it was coming anyway.
In the second quarter Sunday, Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters (circled) picked off a pass from Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and returned it for a touchdown. After helping to deter Wilson from targeting Seattle wide receiver Tyler Lockett on a downfield route against cornerback Marlon Humphrey, Peters drove back to wide receiver Jaron Brown in the flat. Wilson's pass arrived late, but Peters knew it was coming anyway. (NFL Game Pass)

“I kind of took some steps,” Peters said Sunday. “I thought he was going to throw it [to Lockett] and I was going to play that ball, too.”

He played it perfectly. Just as Wilson wound up for a throw to Lockett, Peters faded downfield, giving cornerback Marlon Humphrey sideline protection. And just after Wilson bailed on the first windup, Peters drove on the mostly idle Brown.

In the Week 5 meeting, on third-and-12, Peters had lined up far off the line of scrimmage when the Seahawks ran their China play. Recognizing that Peters and the Rams’ zone coverage had blanketed the slot receiver — on that play, it was Brown — Wilson quickly went to tight end Will Dissly in the right flat. The completion didn’t net a first down, but at least it wasn’t an interception.

On Sunday, Peters knew where Wilson’s next read would be. He was a step ahead. Or maybe Wilson (season-low 65.2 passer rating) was a step behind.

“I think he kind of threw it too late,” Peters said.

“Basically, he sensed that Russell’s eyes weren’t really where they needed to be,” Harbaugh said. “They were somewhere else. They came late over there. And I don’t think Russ saw him, really. And I think he appreciated that. He’s so quick. He really covers ground, 0 to 60 [mph], very fast.”

Wilson’s flat-footed throw led Brown downfield a few yards. Peters probably would’ve gotten to it, anyway, even if it hadn’t. He was far from his top speed when he stepped in between Brown and the pass. The rest was easy.

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The ‘power’ play

The four-play sequence before the Ravens’ go-ahead third-quarter touchdown had more ups and downs than a soap opera season finale. On first-and-10 from Seattle’s 16, tight end Mark Andrews couldn’t secure a would-be touchdown. Then the Ravens were called for a delay-of-game penalty, prompting Jackson to kick up his feet in anger and spike the ball. Then Andrews dropped a short pass over the middle.

On third-and-15, needing points but not wanting a sack and 40-plus-yard field-goal attempt in the rain, the Ravens called a draw play. Jackson followed his blockers, juked a defender, was wrapped up by linebacker K.J. Wright at the Seahawks’ 11 and somehow fell forward to the 8. He was still short 2 yards. Jackson and the offense came off the field as kicker Justin Tucker came on.

“To get all those yards back like he did — I was pretty much going to go for it on fourth-and-1,” Harbaugh said. “But fourth-and-2, fourth-and-3, it felt [like] those points would be valuable.”

Jackson convinced him to go for it. After a Ravens timeout, the offense went back out. Just a minute earlier, Harbaugh had been unsure about whether to proceed with the offense. When Jackson took the field again, there was almost no doubt who would get the ball.

It was as if offensive coordinator Greg Roman were daring the Seahawks to stop the inevitable: “quarterback power.” When Jackson lined up in the shotgun, there were no running backs to his side or wide receivers split out wide. Tight end Hayden Hurst was the only other player in the backfield. At the line of scrimmage were two tight ends, a fullback and six offensive linemen. The average weight of the 10 blockers set to pave a lane for Jackson was about 300 pounds.

On fourth-and-2 from Seattle's 8-yard line in the third quarter Sunday, the Ravens had Jackson run behind six offensive linemen, three tight ends and a fullback. The blockers averaged about 300 pounds each.
On fourth-and-2 from Seattle's 8-yard line in the third quarter Sunday, the Ravens had Jackson run behind six offensive linemen, three tight ends and a fullback. The blockers averaged about 300 pounds each. (NFL Game Pass)

In the preseason, Roman had said the Ravens would sometimes need to get "medieval” on defenses. This was that. When Jackson took off to his right, he was denied an outside lane. But right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and reserve lineman James Hurst’s double team created one hole. Tight end Nick Boyle helped widen it. A serendipitous hip check by Brown kept Jackson untouched in the backfield. Left guard Bradley Bozeman, pulling to the right side, showed him his path forward. And the Ravens, soon enough, were in the end zone. They were on their way to a win.

“When we hit the field, those guys were all determined to make it work, and they did,” offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris said Tuesday. “ And that’s a credit to them, because they’re the ones that are playing. This is a player’s game. They’re playing, and they love playing together. So great for the Ravens, great for our offense, and well executed.”

PATRIOTS@RAVENS

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Nov. 3, 8:20 p.m.

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