Irvin and Mack Have a Party in the Ravens’ Backfield
Entering the game under a negative spotlight because of their inability to attack the quarterback in recent weeks, Raiders edge-rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin responded to the early criticism with an elite performance in Baltimore.
Mack (83.6) and Irvin (81.9) graded out as the Raiders’ second and fifth highest defensive players, as their constant pressure forced Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and his offensive line into costly errors throughout the entire game.
As the two continued to breathe down his back behind the line of scrimmage, Flacco struggled with accuracy and consistently threw the ball early, thus ruining the timing with his star receivers Mike Wallace and future Hall of Famer Steve Smith Sr.
Similarly, the added pressure from Mack and Irvin forced the Ravens’ offensive line into an abundance of holding penalties, as the group finished with five on the day.
Both Irvin and Mack capped off their performances with sacks in the fourth quarter.
Irvin stripped Flacco early in the fourth quarter to set the Raiders up on the Baltimore 29-yard line, leading to a 13-yard touchdown strike to Crabtree from Carr.
Mack matched Irvin’s sack total later in the quarter, forcing the Ravens into long third down attempt. Without enough firepower to pick up the first down, Baltimore punted to end the drive.
Raiders safety Nelson, an obvious beneficiary to the Raiders’ success attacking the quarterback, recognized his edge-rushers’ efforts.
"“It always helps our defense when our D-line gets going,” Nelson said. “They came alive today, and that’s what we need them to do. We got a lot of work still to do at the end of the day, but we came out with the win, and that’s all that matters.”"
Now inching closer to their potential, Mack and Irvin can lead this Raiders defense to new heights if they can continue to pressure the quarterback with consistency.