The Ravens follow a familiar pattern to get past the lowly Cardinals, 31-24 – Twin Cities

The Ravens’ time as the biggest show on the field was short-lived.

A week after he scored on each of his first four possessions and Lamar Jackson threw four touchdown passes and ran for another against the Detroit Lions, Baltimore’s offense hit a losing streak against the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Still, it managed just enough to find the end zone four times and then do what it does best: rely on its defense.

The Ravens (6-2) stopped Arizona twice on fourth down, intercepted Josh Dobbs twice and held the quarterback to 208 yards passing en route to a scrappy 31-24 win over the Cardinals (1-7). The win keeps Baltimore atop the AFC North on a day when the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers lost and the Cincinnati Bengals each won 4-3.

Leading the way on Baltimore’s defense was tackle Michael Pierce, who pushed his way through the Cardinals’ line, recorded four tackles, including one for a loss, broke up a fourth-and-1 pass and forced a fumble on a strip sack.

Geno Stone also had his NFL-best fifth interception of the season when he picked off Dobbs at the Cardinals’ 24-yard line late in the third quarter. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Stone’s NFL-leading five interceptions are tied with Hall of Famer Ed Reed (2007) for the most by a Ravens player in the first eight games of a season in team history.

But it was Pierce’s play that helped set the tone for the NFL’s best defense.

The Ravens entered Sunday’s game averaging a league-low 13.9 points per game and allowing the second-fewest yards per game. Still, the Cardinals managed to move the ball at times – until they couldn’t anymore.

After Dobbs hit a 1-yard sneak to cap a 12-play, 75-yard drive on the game’s opening series – one that was helped by an illegal contact penalty by Kyle Hamilton that negated a sack by Justin Madubuike on third down made, and a 23-yard pass interference penalty by Marlon Humphrey – Baltimore and Pierce are knocked down.

On the Cardinals’ second possession and a fourth-and-1 from the Ravens’ 44, Pierce knocked down a pass intended for former Raven Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. On their next drive and another four-and-1, this time from the Ravens’ 36, the 6-foot-1, 355-pound seventh-year veteran Emari Demercado stuffed up the middle on a handoff.

Dobbs was 8 of 12 for 55 yards in the first half.

The Cardinals finished the game with 310 total yards; the Ravens had 268.

Still, it was enough.

On the Ravens’ first possession, they also drove 75 yards for a touchdown – and also got help from wide receiver Odell Beckham, who drew a pass interference penalty for a 19-yard gain to the Cardinals’ 8th yard. Two plays later, Jackson, who was 6 of 7 for 64 yards in the series, hit tight end Mark Andrews for a 5-yard touchdown pass over the middle in the back of the end zone. It was his 40th career score, tying one of Todd Heap’s franchise records as a tight end.

The Ravens then capitalized on a second-quarter Brandon Stephens interception (his second of the year) at the Cardinals’ 47 with just under two minutes left to go 43 yards in six plays, with Gus Edwards plowing in from one yard out.

Edwards (19 carries, 80 yards) found the end zone again with a 7-yard sprinter after Stone’s interception, and Justin Tucker later added a 48-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

Dobbs finally found the end zone through the air, connecting with tight end Trey McBride from 17 yards out midway through the fourth and then adding a 2-point conversion run.

But Edwards put the game out of reach with his third touchdown of the game – another 1-yard run – with 2:51 left.

Dobbs connected with Brown for a 1-yard score with 1:14 left, but the 2-point attempt failed. Matt Prater’s successful onside kick gave Arizona another shot down, and Prater made a 47-yard field goal with 26 seconds left, but the Cardinals failed to recover another onside kick and Nelson Agholor saved it and the Ravens ran out of time.

This story will be updated.

Week 9

Seahawks at Ravens

Sunday, 1 p.m


Radio: 97.9FM, 101.5FM, 1090AM

Line: Ravens at 4 1/2


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