The Ravens’ bye week started not long after 6 a.m. Monday, with bleary eyes and beat-up bodies. Only five or so hours earlier, the team had left Los Angeles with a 20-10 win over the Chargers in prime time. Then the Ravens’ plane landed in the early morning dark at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, and back to work they went.

Well, not everybody. Players got the week off. Coaches got back to the drawing board.

“This is what no sleep looks like, but it’s a very happy no sleep,” coach John Harbaugh joked Monday afternoon. “Everybody’s pleased with the outcome, and really just got to work as soon as we got back in.”

The 9-3 Ravens, who enter Week 13 leading the AFC, again put more good than bad on tape inside SoFi Stadium. But even with the bye week affording Harbaugh and his staff the time to reevaluate big-picture trends, Sunday’s win was notable — not just for the Ravens’ challenge decisions, but also their execution in high-leverage spots. Here are three plays that stood out.

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The busted run

With a more favorable spot on quarterback Lamar Jackson’s third-and-3 scramble late in the second quarter, the Ravens might have waited to unveil their “Wildcat” package. But, faced with a fourth-and-1 in Chargers territory, there it was: Jackson lining up as a decoy out wide, running back Gus Edwards in the shotgun, a downhill run coming.

The odds were in the Ravens’ favor. Entering Sunday, over the past five seasons, seven non-quarterbacks had taken a direct snap needing only a yard on third or fourth down. According to Sports Info Solutions, only one had failed to convert: then-Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary, who in 2020 was stopped near the goal line for no gain in a Week 3 win over the Los Angeles Rams. (One play later, quarterback Josh Allen finished off the drive with a fourth-down touchdown pass.)

Against a typically leaky Chargers run defense, Edwards seemed an especially good bet to move the chains. Among the 51 running backs with at least 10 carries in short-yardage situations this season (3 yards or fewer), Edwards entered Week 12 ranked fifth in first-down-conversion rate (79.3%) — a hair better than Jackson, too (79.2%), according to TruMedia. In 1-yard-to-go scenarios, Edwards’ conversation rate this season was 84.6%, third best in the NFL among running backs with at least 10 such carries.

Edwards had never taken a direct snap before Sunday, but the Ravens’ problem wasn’t the play call; it was their execution. The Chargers won at the point of attack against the right side of the Ravens’ unbalanced offensive line, which featured backup left tackle Patrick Mekari, briefly replacing a banged-up Ronnie Stanley, next to right tackle Morgan Moses, as well as backup guard Ben Cleveland, next to Mekari at the edge of the line. Fullback Patrick Ricard lined up off the line and to Edwards’ right, but he couldn’t clear rookie defensive end Tuli Tuipulotu out of the way.

Rather than follow left guard John Simpson, who was pulling into a congested line, Edwards decided to bounce the run outside. Safety Alohi Gilman and inside linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. were waiting for him there, too, though. Edwards was contacted a yard behind the line of scrimmage, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, and moved the pile only a yard after contact.

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“ ... Anything that we call that doesn’t work, we’ve got to do it better, got to coach it better, got to execute better.”

Todd Monken, Ravens offensive coordinator

“Well, it didn’t work, so obviously, it didn’t go as planned,” offensive coordinator Todd Monken said Monday, pointing to a couple of presnap hiccups. “There were a lot of things we could have done better. … It didn’t work. We’ve been repping that for a couple weeks, and it didn’t work, so it is what it is. I mean, anything that we call that doesn’t work, we’ve got to do it better, got to coach it better, got to execute better.”

The ‘fastball’ blitz

When the Ravens’ defense needed a stop late in the fourth quarter, clinging to a 13-10 lead as a fourth-and-6 near midfield loomed, coordinator Mike Macdonald channeled his inner Félix Bautista.

“We were trying to throw our fastball,” he said Monday. Macdonald’s best fastball just happened to be one of the fastballs he throws the least: the Arthur Maulet heater.

According to Pro Football Focus, the slot cornerback had blitzed just 10 times entering Week 12. But Maulet had been productive: one sack on his one pass-rush snap in the Ravens’ Week 5 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and another sack and two pressures on his two pass-rush snaps in a Week 7 win over the Detroit Lions.

The pressure package that Macdonald cooked up for Maulet should’ve looked familiar to Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, at least in hindsight. It was a near-exact replica of the scheme that had freed up Maulet for his two sacks.

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With Chargers receivers lining up in a condensed formation, Maulet had a shorter runway to the pocket. And with no Ravens defensive backs “capping” the route of tight end Donald Parham Jr. — lining up behind Maulet to take over in coverage when he blitzed — there was no obvious tell for Herbert that he might need to adjust the offensive line’s protection.

At the snap, the Ravens sent seven defenders after Herbert, who had just six players in protection. Everyone was accounted for … except for Maulet. He got to Herbert in about 2.2 seconds, a lightning-quick pressure. There were no easy answers underneath to target. Defensive lineman Michael Pierce had engaged the center before dropping into coverage to cut off any potential shallow crossing routes. Fellow behemoth Broderick Washington had done the same.

Herbert avoided taking a sack, but his efforts were in vain. A desperation throw ended up closer to Pierce than any Chargers receiver, and the Ravens took over after an intentional-grounding penalty.

“All across the board, all 11 [players], the execution was just to a T of how we wanted it,” Macdonald said. “Just proud of Arthur not jumping [offside] in that situation and aiming for the high shoulder and mirrored the throwing hand and did all the things we coach him to do, and he really took advantage of the situation. So you can go through each of the 11 guys in that situation, and they’re doing it exactly how we want it to be done. You do that in critical situations, you have a great chance to close out games.”

Maulet, one of 15 Ravens with at least a half-sack this season, said after the game that he was “just doing my job” on the decisive fourth-down play.

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“The D-line does a good job just holding their guys up for me, and I can just be a free runner, and if I don’t make the play, then I shouldn’t be out there,” Maulet said. “That’s what I tell those guys, so I just appreciate the D-line for giving me free runs at the quarterback.”

The game-breaking run

After Maulet’s fourth-down pressure, the Ravens took over at the Chargers’ 44-yard line. And with a 5-yard gain on first down, the Ravens were actually setting up their put-away score on third down. Monken’s opening play call on the drive was a read-option for Jackson, with wide receiver Devin Duvernay, motioning over from left to right, as the de facto running back. With several Chargers defenders respecting Duvernay’s speed out wide, Jackson kept the ball and followed Simpson up the middle for a solid gain.

The Ravens’ second-down play call was more static and less successful: another read-option, with Jackson faking another handoff, this time to running back Keaton Mitchell, and falling forward for a 2-yard gain.

On third-and-3, the Ravens went back to what had worked two plays earlier. This time, however, it was Flowers who was in motion, moving from right to left as the ball was snapped. As the left side of the Ravens’ line pulled to the right, freezing the Chargers’ second-level defenders, Jackson waited for defensive end Khalil Mack to commit. Mack was the “conflict player,” whose unblocked path to the backfield would dictate whether Jackson kept the ball again or fed Flowers.

When Mack crashed hard inside, Jackson put the ball in Flowers’ belly. The rookie took off from there. Edwards, who turned into a lead blocker with the handoff, got enough of safety Derwin James Jr. out wide to keep him off Flowers. Cornerback Essang Bassey overpursued Flowers, too, leaving a cutback hole for Flowers that he spotted just before he crossed the line of scrimmage.

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“My natural instinct just took over — cut back, cut back and go beat him to the end zone,” Flowers said after the game. When he saw James was out of place, he knew he had a chance. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, it’s over with for him.’ Made him miss and shot to the end zone.”

The only flaw with Flowers’ run was, well, that he scored. The Chargers were down to just one timeout. Had Flowers stopped short of the goal line, the Ravens could’ve run out the clock with a fresh set of downs. Instead, the Chargers got the ball back, and with it a fleeting chance of a comeback.

“We were doing so much of the quarterback-driven [play calls] that, in my mind, we were so far out that I wasn’t even thinking about it at the time,” said Monken, who blamed himself for failing to tell Jackson to communicate that a touchdown would be unhelpful. “You’re really trying to talk about ball security, because there’s an exchange that occurs [on option plays]. The worst thing that can happen is when you put the dang thing on the ground. That’s on me. I have to tell them, ‘Hey, this is this situation. [If] we get a first down, go down.’”