Baltimore’s resounding 34-6 victory over the first-place Chargers improved its record to 5-1, the top mark in the AFC. But the Ravens couldn’t have been more low-key after making the loudest Week 6 statement in the NFL.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson was the most subdued he’s been after a win this season and wasn’t interested in discussing whether this victory says the Ravens are the best in the conference.
“We don’t want that name,” Jackson said. "We’re good with where we’re at. We don’t need all that extra stuff coming with us. We’re fine.
“You know how people have been saying about us? Keep the same view -- because we know what we’ve got going on over here in this organization.”
Through most of the season, Jackson has enjoyed the Ravens being under the national radar. Few anticipated the Ravens leaping over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC or even the Cleveland Browns in the AFC North.
Baltimore has carried the label of being the most banged-up team, leading the NFL with 16 players on injured reserve. The Ravens have been without their top two running backs (J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards) as well as a Pro Bowl cornerback (Marcus Peters) and offensive tackle (Ronnie Stanley).
In what is shaping up as one of John Harbaugh’s best coaching seasons, the Ravens rebounded from a season-opening loss in Las Vegas to win five straight. The players talked about being battle-tested after major fourth-quarter comebacks against the Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts, and a last-second, 66-yard winning field goal by Justin Tucker in Detroit.
On Sunday, the Chargers came to Baltimore on top of the AFC West after winning three straight. The Ravens then beat Los Angeles by 28 points, their largest margin of victory over a team that entered with a winning percentage over .800 in franchise history.
Asked if he believes this score will raise some eyebrows, Harbaugh said, “Yes, probably. That’s OK with me. We like raising eyebrows in a good way. So, we’re happy about that.”
The Ravens’ win over the Chargers was even more impressive considering Jackson had his least productive game of the season. He threw for a season-low 167 yards and was intercepted twice.
Baltimore showed it could win without Jackson’s heroics with the return of a strong running game and aggressive defense. The Ravens ran for 187 yards against the NFL’s worst run defense and held Justin Herbert to a season-low 195 yards passing.
In the locker room after the game, Harbaugh was even-keel with his players, saying: “Just keep it simple. Keep getting better.”
“I don't think it says anything long term,” Harbaugh said when asked about the significance of the win. "It just says that we had a really good day today, and we played the way we needed to play in this game.”
History says Baltimore’s strong start can have long-term repercussions. The Ravens improved to 5-1 for the second straight season and for the fourth time in franchise history. The other two seasons with 5-1 starts? They were 2000 and 2012, when the Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl.
“We have a long way to go, and I feel like that’s the scary part about this team,” Ravens running back Devonta Freeman said. "We’re still reaching super, super heights that haven't been reached on this team yet.
“We have a bunch of guys coming in that are just coming in to work every single day. We all know there’s room for improvement, so we’re going for that every single day. We’re going to put this win behind us and move on to Cincinnati.”
The Ravens face the Bengals (4-2) on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS) in a battle of the top two teams in the AFC North. Baltimore can prove it's not only the best team in the division but the most complete.
On offense, Jackson can beat teams by running the ball or throwing it, hitting Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, Mark Andrews and now first-round pick Rashod Bateman, who made his NFL debut after missing the first five games with a groin injury. On defense, Baltimore has been successfully shutting down the other team’s top playmakers.
The Ravens are one of four teams who are ranked in the top 10 in points scored and fewest points allowed.
“We have a great team – offensively and defensively,” Ravens safety DeShon Elliott said. "When we play together, when we play as a band of brothers, we can be a very great team."