Playing for his grandmother, Andrews has career effort
After his first touchdown of the season, on his way to the game of his life, Ravens tight end Mark Andrews took a knee in the end zone Monday night, bowed his head and absorbed the moment.
“It felt good,” he said afterward. He repeated himself: “It felt good.” His voice started to quiver.
From the hours leading up to kickoff against the Indianapolis Colts, to the fourth-quarter touchdown he caught to restart a comeback, to the minutes after the Ravens finished a stunning 31-25 win at M&T Bank Stadium, Andrews was thinking of his grandmother. She’d died less than a week ago, he said, “and I wanted to play for her. So it felt really good.”
Andrews did not play like he had the weight of a heavy heart. No Ravens tight end has finished a game with more receiving yards than Andrews did Monday (147), and only Dennis Pitta has matched his receptions total (11). Pitta was targeted 16 times in that 2016 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals; Andrews, meanwhile, did his damage on 13.
He was at his best late. Four times in a nine-minute span, Andrews caught a pass from quarterback Lamar Jackson in the end zone, each fourth-quarter score more important than the last. First there was the 5-yard touchdown catch and 2-point conversion that trimmed the Colts’ lead to 25-17 with less than 10 minutes remaining. Then there was the 4-yard score and second 2-point conversion that, improbably, tied the game at 25 with under a minute left.
All of which doesn’t even account for Andrews’ smooth one-handed grab early in the fourth quarter, or his overtime contributions.
A year after finishing with 701 receiving yards in 14 games, he already has 400 yards through five games in 2021. With 185 career receptions, Andrews joined Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed and Kellen Winslow Sr. as the only NFL tight ends in the league’s modern era to reach 175 catches by the 50th game of their career.
Jackson, of course, has been behind most of them.
“I think we’re growing,” Andrews said of their connection. “We’re getting smarter. We’re getting better. We’re getting more mature — all those different things that happen over the years, again, when you have that connection. We’ve always had it. When you have guys that are all around you that are making big plays, it’s hard to stop that as a defense. So I think just us being able to have playmakers all over the field, which we did, the receiving room — all those guys balled out. So that makes my job easier too.”
As the chaos of the Ravens’ win faded early Tuesday morning, Andrews joked at his postgame news conference about the team’s penchant for drama (“I think they’re taking a couple years off my life”). He talked about what had spurred the third-largest comeback in franchise history (“It’s belief ”).
He laughed when a reporter asked him about the critics of Jackson’s comeback ability (“You can’t say that anymore”).
The last question Andrews took was about his grandmother, and how he’d wanted to honor her Monday night. He grew up close to her, he said, just a block away, close enough to run on over for visits. Even as she grew old, Andrews joked, she’d read every story she could about him. She meant a lot, he said, and it hurt that he couldn’t be there to tell her in person.
“I know she was looking down on me, watching,” he said.
‘Man, we’re going to get a block’: Jackson’s heroics Monday night wouldn’t have been possible without Calais Campbell’s blocked field-goal attempt in the fourth quarter against the Colts. It kept the Ravens within a touchdown and a 2-point conversion of tying the game, which they did, of course, but after the game, Campbell gave credit to another big man on the special teams unit: defensive tackle Broderick Washington.
“I was on the field, but then I was told that [Washington] called the play, because we have six different blocks we can do, and we tried a bunch of them,” Campbell said. “So, when he called the swim, the coach went with it, and man, great call.”
During practice last week, the Ravens made the decision to move Washington just outside of Campbell in the field goal block formation to create more space. Campbell said Washington told him throughout the week, “‘Man, we’re going to get a block. I promise you; I’m going to get a good push. You just get through there, and I’m just going to give you some space to go get a block.’ ”
The blocked kick, a 37-yard attempt by Rodrigo Blankenship with 4:37 remaining, could’ve sealed a Colts victory. But Campbell’s push — and Washington’s coaching decision — was the difference in another wild comeback win.
Rushing streak snapped: Amid the madness that ensued during the Ravens’ victory, it might have been easy to forget how the they fell short of history.
The Ravens’ streak of consecutive games with at least 100 rushing yards was snapped at 43, keeping them tied with the 1974-77 Pittsburgh Steelers for the longest in NFL history. The streak started Nov. 18, 2018, and Baltimore ranked No. 1 in the league in rushing in 2019 and 2020.
The Ravens only managed 86 rushing yards against Indianapolis, falling 14 short on a night when their quarterback set several records with his arm. Outside of Jackson, who ran for 62 yards on 14 carries, the Ravens running game was obsolete as running backs Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman and Ty’Son Williams had a combined 24 yards.
With the streak snapped, the Cleveland Browns own the longest current streak of 100-yard rushing games with six. They could tie the Ravens and Steelers in Week 8 in 2023.
Jackson’s historic night: Jackson had a night for the ages.
In a wild 31-25 overtime win Monday night over the Indianapolis Colts, Jackson finished 37-for-43 for 442 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, while adding 14 carries for a game-high 62 yards. In a lot of ways, they were unprecedented totals for an unprecedented player.
Here’s a look at where his big night stands historically:
Jackson’s 442 passing yards were not only a career high but also a franchise high, breaking Vinny Testaverde’s 1996 mark of 429 yards, set in a 37-31 win over the St. Louis Lois Rams.
Jackson’s completion rate (86%) was the highest of any quarterback in NFL history who’s attempted over 40 passes in a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Until Monday, none of the 4,000-plus individual-game passers with at least 40 attempts had completed even 85% of their passes.
Jackson is the first player in NFL history with at least 400 passing yards and a completion percentage above 85 in a game, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Jackson led the third-biggest comeback in Ravens history (19 points). The franchise record is a 21-point comeback over the Arizona Cardinals in 2011, sealed by kicker Billy Cundiff ’s 25-yard field goal as time expired.
Jackson generated a career-high 28.4 expected points added on his 45 dropbacks, the most by any quarterback in a game this season, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats. EPA is a measure of efficiency that accounts for situational factors such as down, distance and field position.
Jackson is the first quarterback in the past 20 seasons to overcome a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter and finish with 400 yards passing and four touchdown passes, according to ESPN.
Jackson is the first player in NFL history to finish with 400 yards passing, four touchdown passes, no interceptions and 50 yards rushing in a game, according to Pro Football Reference.