Ravens’ defense rises to occasion in 27-13 win over Saints

New Orleans Saints v Baltimore Ravens
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The Ravens offense was missing key players due to injuries, so Baltimore’s defense needed to step up big-time.

It did.  Baltimore’s defense controlled the game, recording four sacks, including 2.5 by Justin Houston.

The Baltimore Ravens (6-3) won their third straight and fourth out of their past five with a 27-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints, increasing their lead atop the AFC North.

The Ravens’ defense delivered its most dominant performance of the season when the team needed it the most. The Ravens held the Saints to 238 yards, which tied the fewest they’ve given up this year.

Outside linebacker Justin Houston delivered 2.5 sacks and a fourth-quarter interception. He became the first player in Ravens history with three consecutive multiple-sack games. Houston was the team’s top playmaker as the defense didn’t allow a touchdown until four minutes were left in the game.

This was a timely effort by the defense because its offense is extremely banged up. Lamar Jackson played without Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews (inactive with shoulder and knee injuries), No. 1 wide receiver Rashod Bateman (out for season with foot injury) and his top two running backs (J.K. Dobbins is on injured reserve with a knee injury and Gus Edwards was inactive with a hamstring injury). Still, the Ravens won their third straight game and head into the bye with a one-game lead over the Cincinnati Bengals for first place in the AFC North.

Pivotal play: Houston’s interception in the fourth quarter. With 8:24 left in the game, the Ravens sealed their fourth win in five games with the type of game-closing play that had eluded them this season. Defensive end Brent Urban deflected Andy Dalton‘s pass, and Houston pulled in the interception. Baltimore quickly converted that turnover into Kenyan Drake‘s second touchdown run, staking the Ravens to a 27-6 lead. It was Baltimore’s 11th consecutive game with a forced turnover, which is the longest active streak in the NFL. Houston is the first player in Ravens history to record 2.5 sacks and an interception in the same game.

The Saints (3-6) hoped they had turned a corner following their dominant performance against the Las Vegas Raiders last week. Instead, they simply found disappointment in a prime-time loss.

Many of the same problems the Saints dealt with earlier in the season returned. Quarterback Andy Dalton struggled, and the offensive line didn’t protect him, particularly after the loss of center Erik McCoy to injury. Dalton certainly didn’t help his long-term case as the Saints’ starting quarterback by throwing a late interception, nor was he helped by the Saints’ run game, which didn’t fare well against the Ravens’ defense.

The Saints mostly had no answer for Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who made a number of impressive plays to escape tackles all night. Now the Saints will have to regroup on a short week with the Pittsburgh Steelers up next on the road.

Saints coach Dennis Allen committed to Dalton at quarterback as long as the offense kept performing, and it certainly took a giant step back against the Ravens. Dalton needed a big game to prove the three interceptions in prime time vs. the Cardinals in Week 7 were a fluke, but instead the offense sputtered again. Dalton doubled his season sack total and was picked off in the fourth quarter. He also will lament missing a wide-open Marquez Callaway in the end zone at the end of the first half.

The Ravens converted nine of 15 third downs and had 319 total yards. The Saints were 3 of 11 on third down and finished with 243 yards. Baltimore possessed the ball for 37:47.

Andy Dalton passed for 210 yards and New Orleans’ lone touchdown to tight end Juwan Johnson, which came in when the game was virtually out of reach in the fourth quarter. Alvin Kamara was limited to 62 yards from scrimmage, his lowest output in five games.

Baltimore’s defense was stifling on New Orleans’ first four possessions, limiting the Saints to 13 combined plays.

Consequently, the stamina of New Orleans’ defense was tested as the unit contended with the elusive Jackson for 19:31 of the first half. Baltimore’s star QB didn’t let that time go to waste.

While rolling right, he found tight end Isaiah Likely running a flag pattern for a 24-yard score to make it 7-0 in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Jackson orchestrated a 12-play, 81-yard drive during which he ran for gains of 7, 16 and 12 yards. Drake capped it off by running into the end zone virtually untouched from a yard out for a 14-0 lead.

Wil Lutz got the Saints on the board with a field goal as time expired in the half — but not before Dalton overthrew open receiver Maquez Callaway in the end zone.

Jackson finished 12 of 22 passing for 133 yards without an interception.

INJURIES—

Ravens: Right tackle Morgan Moses (leg) received attention on the field during the third quarter.

Saints: Center Erik McCoy had to be helped off the field with a calf injury late in the second quarter. Pete Werner was carted to the locker room in the third quarter with an ankle injury. Defensive end Marcus Davenport left in the second half with a calf injury.

UP NEXT— Ravens, after a bye, host Carolina on Nov. 20.

Matchup Ravens' defense rises to occasion in 27-13 win over Saints Ravens' defense rises to occasion in 27-13 win over Saints
1st Downs 23 13
Passing 1st downs 7 10
Rushing 1st downs 14 2
1st downs from penalties 2 1
3rd down efficiency 9-15 3-11
4th down efficiency 0-0 1-1
Total Plays 65 49
Total Yards 319 243
Total Drives 9 10
Yards per Play 4.9 5.0
Passing 131 195
Comp-Att 12-22 20-30
Yards per pass 5.2 5.7
Interceptions thrown 0 1
Sacks-Yards Lost 3-2 4-28
Rushing 188 48
Rushing Attempts 40 15
Yards per rush 4.7 3.2
Red Zone (Made-Att) 2-4 0-2
Penalties 5-31 5-40
Turnovers 0 1
Fumbles lost 0 0
Interceptions thrown 0 1
Defensive / Special Teams TDs 0 0
Possession 37:47 22:13
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