Bowser had to be helped off the field in the fourth quarter of the Ravens’ Week 18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that ended Baltimore’s hopes of a fourth consecutive postseason appearance. The fifth-year linebacker still recorded six tackles, including a team-high two for loss, before exiting the game.
Bowser has been one of Baltimore’s most consistent defenders this season, starting all but one game, which he missed due to his placement on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. His 7.0 sacks lead the team, and his 40 pressures are second to only rookie Odafe Oweh, per Pro Football Focus. Bowser has also earned a 74.4 overall defensive grade from PFF this season, the third-best mark of any Raven defender with more than three appearances this season.
If upcoming tests confirm the Ravens’ initial fears, Bowser will join an extremely long list of Ravens who suffered major injuries this season, including cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, safeties DeShon Elliott and Ar’Darius Washington, running backs J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill and Gus Edwards, left tackle Ronnie Stanley and inside linebacker L.J. Fort.
Bowser’s Injury Could Impact 2022
An Achilles tear would almost certainly affect Bowser’s availability for Week 1 of the 2022 regular season. A 2017 study found that the average recovery time for an Achilles tendon rupture is nine months, so Bowser is unlikely to be back before September.
The Ravens have seen an outside linebacker recover from such an injury in just over five months: Terrell Suggs, who tore his Achilles in April 2012 and took the field in October of the same year, per SB Nation’s Bobby Esbrandt.
More recently, Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers made a speedy recovery from his Achilles tear suffered in July 2021, per Around The NFL’s Nick Shook, making his first appearance of the season on January 9 vs. the San Francisco 49ers.
Such cases may give hope to the Ravens that Bowser could be ready to start in Week 1 next season, but it’s unlikely that Baltimore rushes him back after so many injuries this year.
However, Bowser’s injury may push edge rusher up the Ravens’ priority list for the 2022 offseason. The team may pursue a new contract with veteran outside linebacker Justin Houston, who was one of two Ravens defenders with a higher PFF grade than Bowser this season. He’s also played a large role in the development of Bowser and Oweh, as well as filling a leadership role in Baltimore’s locker room.
Ravens Offense Sputters vs. Steelers
Star quarterback Lamar Jackson also missed Baltimore’s regular season finale vs. the Steelers, his fifth consecutive absence after hurting his ankle on December 12 in Cleveland. His presence was sorely missed in a Ravens offense that went 3-14 on third down and failed to score in two red zone opportunities for a second week in a row.
Despite encouraging performances earlier in the season, Ravens backup quarterback Tyler Huntley struggled on January 9, completing 16 of his 31 attempts for just 141 yards, averaging 4.5 yards per attempt. He also threw two interceptions, including this one in the end zone with rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman wide open by the left sideline, per Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Sun.
Baltimore’s ground attack carried the offense for most of the game, even with Devonta Freeman not returning to the game after injuring his ribs.
Veteran running back Latavius Murray ran for 150 yards on 16 carries for an average of 9.4 yards per carry, including this 46-yard score that was the Ravens’ longest rushing touchdown of the season.
But Murray’s efforts weren’t enough, with the Ravens struggling to move the ball on either of their final two drives and Steelers kicker Chris Boswell hitting a 36-yard field goal to win the game in overtime.