Lamar Jackson is the playmaking quarterback the Ravens haven’t had for years - Charles R. McDonald
Jackson showed big time improvisational skills for a passer
Right before the half, with just 19 seconds left, the Ravens needed a big play to get into field goal range. Fortunately for Baltimore, they had Jackson just waiting to make it happen. Very few defenders can catch Jackson — even when he’s bottled up in the pocket.
After a pair of Bengals touchdowns put Cincinnati back in the lead, 21-14, the Ravens dialed up more of the same from Jackson and the offense.
Jackson led a 10-play, 80-yard drive that included three more rushing attempts from the quarterback for 21 yards and two pristine passes to the middle of the field for another 31. On second-and-3 from the Bengals’ 11-yard line, Jackson handed it off to Edwards who ran it through a thoroughly confused Cincy defense for the score. Edwards ran it in again for a two-point conversion that tied the game, 21-21.
In the fourth quarter, Jackson led a Ravens drive that burned up almost seven minutes of clock time and covered 55 yards before ending with another field goal. This one provided the deciding points in the Ravens’ 24-21 win.
The comeback drives were the most impressive part of Lamar Jackson’s debut. Before Sunday, the Ravens had not won a game decided by less than a touchdown since Week 15 of the 2016 season.
From hospital to history: Inside Lamar Jackson’s first NFL start - Jamison Hensley
Jackson was at the hospital after suffering pains in his stomach and missed all of Thursday’s practice. Not only did Jackson pass all the medical tests, the rookie first-round pick made the grade in replacing the injured Joe Flacco.
Thanks to Jackson, the Ravens (5-5) ended their three-game losing streak and now own the No. 6 and final playoff spot in the AFC.
Harbaugh: “I won’t say [QB Robert Griffin III] wasn’t considered. We could have played with Robert and played very well. But, Lamar is our backup quarterback. He was our No. 2 guy all year -- it wasn’t a question. Really, from Day 1, he has earned it. He was the next man up.”
Robert Griffin III saw the field for just one of the Ravens 79 offensive snaps. Jackson’s completion percentage of 64.5 this season is slightly better than Griffin’s career average of 63.3-percent.
The Baltimore Ravens’ running back room just got a bit more crowded after rookie Gus Edwards exploded onto the scene Sunday with 115 yards and a touchdown on just 17 touches in Week 11. Fellow running backs Alex Collins, Javorius Allen and Ty Montgomery watched largely from the sideline as the undrafted free agent signing took the bulk of the carries and overall snaps in a much-needed performance for what was a reeling team.
Alex Collins has garnered the largest share of snaps out of the Ravens’ backfield this year, but his highest game grade on the year is a meager 70.3 and he’s yet to accumulate more than 70 yards rushing in a game. Just a season ago, Collins put up the third-highest running back grade (83.4) and the highest rushing grade (86.9). But while it’s been a down year, particularly in yards after contact per attempt (from 2.98 to 2.17), Collins’ seven-touchdown total is already one more than he had a season ago.
If the Ravens want to keep Edwards involved in a running back by committee situation, they may consider using Collins exclusively in red zone situations. The numbers would back up such a decision, as Collins surprisingly averages a full yard more per carry in the red zone (where there is a lot less space to run in) than when running outside of it. His 4.48 yards per carry in the red zone is also supported by his touchdown output — all seven of them have come when rushing from his opponents’ 20-yard line or closer. When outside of the red zone, Collins’ average dips to 3.41 yards per carry.
Gus Edwards’ decisive running style complements Jackson’s talent perfectly.
QB Andy Dalton
On how much they missed A.J. Green: “That’s a huge part of it. With A.J. [Green] out there, I’m sure the pass coverage would have been different. He has made so many big catches over the years. If we had him, we would have given ourselves a better shot.”
On the Ravens’ defensive focus: “They did a really good job of shutting down the run game. That’s the way they’ve always played. They focused on stopping the run, and we couldn’t get anything going. I’m getting used to all of the new receivers. That’s just football. Guys get hurt, and new guys take their places. You just have to trust everyone to make a play. John [Ross] made a great catch in the end zone on that one-on-one play. I saw him do that in a lot of his college tapes, and it was great to see him do that today.”
WR Tyler Boyd
On the similarity to last year’s game in Baltimore: “I knew that, and we knew that we wouldn’t be put in the same position for that play. I knew I would get coverage over my way. It’s hard because we always make it work. We just have to find a way.”
Baltimore’s defense held Cincinnati to three yards per rush and defensed seven passes, including Marlon Humphrey’s fourth down breakup on the Bengals final offensive play.