The Baltimore Ravens may well have the best case to make that they are a better team than their record indicates. While they managed to crawl out of the .500 abyss on Sunday with a win that brought them to 4-3, they are trying to stave off the reputation as a team that blows games.
They have a quick turnaround, playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, who are coming off of back-to-back losses for the first time in the Tom Brady era, but for one player, it’s personal. That would be defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul, recently signed by the Ravens and now with an opportunity to stick it to his former team. This is precisely what he wants to do.
“I’m going to be showcasing my talent as a Raven, and I’m going to show them why they chose me to be here, and get the job done”, he said this week via the team’s website. “I’m a great pass rusher, great run stopper. Somebody still believes in me – so at the end of the day, I’ve got to showcase my talent”.
While he went on to say that he understands the business side of football—he was not re-signed after completing a two-year, $25 million deal—he did allow that he wants to show the Buccaneers “what they don’t have”.
Pierre-Paul signed with the Ravens precisely one month ago as of today. He has played in four games for Baltimore thus far, registering eight tackles, including one for loss, in addition to a sack and three passes defensed, playing 185 snaps, so he is a significant contributor. He has played nearly three quarters of the team’s snaps since signing.
The team has alternated wins and losses throughout the season, and each of their losses have come after holding a two-score lead entering the fourth quarter or better. Both the offense and defense have contributed significantly to these blown leads.
The Ravens can very well be the best 45-minute team in the NFL right now, but the problem has been finishing. They struggled even to do that on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, who scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter and then missed a field goal that would have tied the game. Baltimore added a fourth-quarter field goal but also turned the ball over via fumble on their next possession inside of field-goal range.
As for Pierre-Paul, he recorded two tackles in the game, along with a pass defensed. The Ravens defense had five sacks on the day, with two coming from Justin Houston, along with contributions from Calais Campbell, Patrick Queen, and the rookie Kyle Hamilton.