Lamar Jackson had to play the entire second half Thursday night without his top two receivers. Fortunately, he still had two legs and an arm, plus a big-time run game behind him.
The Baltimore Ravens ruled out tight end Mark Andrews and wide receiver Rashod Bateman while facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Andrews went down with a shoulder injury after rolling over it on a tackle early in the second quarter, while Bateman left with a foot injury.
Both players entered the game already fighting injuries, as Bateman was questionable with that same foot injury and Andrews was questionable with a knee injury. Jackson went to Andrews early and often in the first quarter for 33 receiving yards, but Bateman was still limited, failing to catch his single target.
— NFL (@NFL) October 28, 2022
Serious injuries to key players are nothing new for the Ravens, who were already without starting running back J.K. Dobbins. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley has also had his snaps limited as he returns from an ankle injury. Then they had running back Gus Edwards, who had just returned from a torn ACL and was starting in place of Dobbins, exit with a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter.
Fortunately, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told reporters after the game that Andrews' shoulder injury is minor, while Bateman merely tweaked his foot. The team will know more about Edwards' status after further testing on Friday.
Lamar Jackson, Ravens offense dominates despite injuries
The Ravens have had plenty of practice playing shorthanded, and it showed on Thursday in a 27-22 win.
Even with the loss of Edwards, the Ravens found a way to dominate offensively (an injured and ineffective Tampa Bay defense helped). The Ravens finished with 453 total yards, with 231 of them on the ground. Take out Jackson's kneeldowns to end the game, and they averaged 7.5 yards per rush.
Almost all of that came in the second half. Kenyan Drake and Justice Hill both had big runs in addition to Edwards, while Jackson leaned on rookie tight end Isaiah Likely and wide receiver Devin Duvernay. That included a first career touchdown for Likely, who also had a team-high 77 receiving yards.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) October 28, 2022
The Ravens offense got the ball five times in the second half. Here's how each drive ended: touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, field goal, end of game.
In the end, the Ravens really only needed Jackson, and the quarterback certainly seemed to know it, judging from his curious postgame autograph.
How can you not love Lamar Jackson? pic.twitter.com/gIpE9yNMap
— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) October 28, 2022
The good news for the Ravens is they don't play again until next week's "Monday Night Football" against the New Orleans Saints, followed up by a bye week. That should be plenty of recovery time for a team that clearly needs it.