Here’s what the Baltimore Sun sports staff had to say immediately after the Ravens’ 34-31 overtime win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium:
Jonas Shaffer, reporter: The Ravens didn’t play their best game. Not even close. Still, they might wake up Monday with the AFC’s best record. Such is life in a wacky 2021 season. Lamar Jackson’s developing a knack for comebacks that makes this offense hard to deny. The Ravens’ defense was spotty at times but came through in key moments. Justin Tucker is still Justin Tucker. A loss wouldn’t have doomed this season, but a chance for a three-game winning streak is certainly preferable.
Mike Preston, columnist: The Ravens won a game between two bad football teams. The Ravens have a lot of holes, but the Vikings have more. Quarterback Lamar Jackson couldn’t mask all of the Ravens’ problems Sunday, but kicker Justin Tucker was there to bail them out. Fortunately, there are no super teams in the AFC, and that’s a good thing for the Ravens. At least they displayed a strong running game this week. It might be the start of something, but probably not.
Childs Walker, reporter: The Ravens transformed from one half to the next. They played with no confidence on either side of the ball before halftime. The defense waved helplessly as the Vikings reeled off gains of 50 and 66 yards on their first two drives. Lamar Jackson missed on routine passes and made irrational decisions. Even the Ravens’ league-best special teams faltered.
After a kickoff return touchdown put them down 24-10, they woke up. The defense swarmed Vikings running back Dalvin Cook and rattled quarterback Kirk Cousins. On offense, the Ravens discovered the utility of short passes to the perimeter and wore down the middle of an undermanned Vikings defense. They built a seven-point lead from the ashes of a terrible start and looked like the better team in all respects.
They still had to sweat out a game-tying drive, an overtime interception by the Vikings and a spate of penalties on their final drive, but they won a game that looked hopeless. Given some of the other results around the league Sunday, they’ll take it.
Ryan McFadden, reporter: In a season filled with chaotic games, the Ravens added another to the list. After a rough first half, Lamar Jackson settled down and made key plays with his arm and his legs while showing why he should be a Most Valuable Player candidate. The Ravens’ defense had its moments, but it gave up too many big plays. The offensive line was problematic for most of the game, as it barely gave Jackson enough time to throw.
C.J. Doon, editor: A win’s a win, right? Other AFC contenders weren’t so lucky this week. The Bills lost the Jaguars. The Bengals got blown out by the Browns. The Raiders fell to the Giants. The Ravens can’t be thrilled with their poor start, Lamar Jackson’s two interceptions and their late-game defense, but overcoming a 14-point second-half deficit is nothing to sneeze at, no matter the opponent. With a brutal schedule, this was a game Baltimore could ill afford to lose. Instead, they rallied to extend their AFC North lead. You can’t complain.
Tim Schwartz, editor: The Vikings join a growing list of teams that have been Tucker’d. Mr. Automatic Justin Tucker saved the day again with a 36-yard game-winning field goal, his second of the year late in overtime, as the Ravens fittingly won a close game and the Vikings lost one. The Baltimore defense couldn’t stop the Vikings late in regulation to prevent extra time but forced a three-and-out when it needed it most to set up the game-ending drive. That’s what winning teams do.
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Credit to offensive coordinator Greg Roman for sticking with the running game and giving Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell 24 combined carries, which they turned into 127 yards and a touchdown. Jackson alone had 120 rushing yards on 21 carries to go with three touchdown passes. If the MVP award was given to the player who is truly the most valuable to his respective team, Jackson might be the most deserving.