Baltimore Ravens win third straight, shut down New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS — 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.

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

The Saints (3-6) have lost three of four.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens’ defense delivered its most dominant performance of the season when the team needed it the most. The Ravens held the Saints to 243 yards, the fewest for New Orleans this season.

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.

Promising trend: The Ravens continue to be one of the fastest-starting teams in the NFL. Baltimore became the first team to lead by double digits at any point in each of its first nine games of a season since the 2011 Green Bay Packers, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The Ravens are just the third team to do so in the past 20 years, joining the 2009 New Orleans Saints and 2011 Packers — both of whom started 9-0. This just shows how close the Ravens were to a perfect start if they hadn’t had three fourth-quarter meltdowns.

Silver lining: Jackson was spreading the ball around. Without his top two targets — Andrews and Bateman — Jackson became more unpredictable in distributing the ball. He hit eight different players on his first eight passes and finished with throws to 10 players, tying a career high. Andrews and Bateman accounted for 39% of the Ravens’ receptions in the first eight games, and while Baltimore is more dangerous with them, the Ravens appeared to be more balanced without them. — Jamison Hensley

Underrated statistic to know: Jackson is the second player in NFL history to record 100 passing touchdowns and 20 rushing touchdowns before turning 26, joining Josh Allen. Both were drafted in 2018.

Next game: vs. Panthers (1 p.m. ET, Nov. 20)

New Orleans Saints

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 as New Orleans gained just 48 yards.

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.

QB breakdown: 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. Callaway had 5.95 yards of separation on the play, making it only the second incompletion this season on an end zone throw with over 5 yards of separation.

Troubling trend: The injury bug came back to bite the Saints again, with McCoy, starting linebacker Pete Werner and starting defensive end Marcus Davenport all leaving with injuries. The Saints have been short-handed all season, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, so this would be another blow if all three end up out for any length of time. The loss of Werner would hurt the most, as he has taken a huge leap forward in his second season and has been a key piece of the defense. — Katherine Terrell

Underrated statistic to know: Dalton has a .231 win percentage in prime time (6-20), the worst of any quarterback since 2000. Kerry Collins is 5-16 for a .238 percentage.

Next game: at Steelers (1 p.m. ET, Nov. 13)

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