In a high-stakes, must-win affair against the surging Cleveland Browns on Sunday, the Ravens hung on in dramatic fashion to earn a victory and win the AFC North. It wasn’t pretty nor perfect, but neither of those qualities have been key to the Ravens success.
Baltimore jumped out to an early 20-7 lead and appeared to be on the way to a blowout victory, but a Lamar Jackson fumble at the goal line before halftime shifted momentum and the Browns slowly creeped back into the game.
Ultimately, a C.J. Mosley interception with just over a minute remaining saved the day and the Ravens survived a potential heartbreaker, which shaped up to be awfully similar to last year’s debacle against the Bengals in Week 17.
Lamar Jackson, Kenneth Dixon, and Gus Edwards led a monstorous rushing attack that totaled 296 yards, and the defense came up with several big plays. Check out all the top highlights below and vote for your favorite!
Jimmy Smith first-quarter interception: There’s no better way to set the tone defensively than forcing a turnover on the opposing team’s opening drive, and that’s exactly what the Ravens did. After winning the coin toss and choosing to defer to Cleveland, Jimmy Smith gained position on Antonio Callaway and jumped his route as Baker Mayfield was pressured in the pocket. Smith picked off the pass for his first interception of the season and sparked a 9-play Baltimore drive that led to a field goal.
JIMMY SMITH PICK! pic.twitter.com/nA6sESaf5K— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 30, 2018
Lamar Jackson 25-yard rushing touchdown: “Action Jackson” was on full display against Cleveland, and no play was more indicative of his dual-threat ability than the 25-yard rushing touchdown he scored with just under five minutes remaining in the first quarter. On a 3rd & 4, looking to regain the lead after a quick Browns scoring drive, Jackson took off up the middle and outraced several defenders. It was a dynamic play to put the Ravens up 10-7 and ultimately was the first of two rushing scores for Jackson on the day.
.@Lj_era8 HIT THE JETS! pic.twitter.com/tEmHUUdHgM— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 30, 2018
Jimmy Smith second-quarter interception: Oh, you thought Jimmy was going to stop at one? You thought wrong. With the Browns driving and aiming to convert on a 3rd & long, Tavon Young deflected a Mayfield pass intended for Rashard Higgins and Smith was in the right place at the right time. In what was actually an acrobatic play, Smith dove for the ball and managed to coral it as he hit the ground for his second interception of the game. Sunday was the first two-interception game of Smith’s career.
.@NLtyoung breaks up the pass, Jimmy Smith gets the INT! pic.twitter.com/ng2V6D2cSB— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 30, 2018
Hayden Hurst 32-yard reception: The Ravens other first-round draft pick, Hayden Hurst, has had a quiet rookie season since returning from injury earlier in the year. However, his production and role in the offense have slowly been increasing in recent weeks and on Sunday, he made the biggest play of his young career. Backed up in their own territory, the Ravens desperately needed a scoring drive to counter a Browns comeback attempt. Jackson found Hurst over the middle for 32 yards, most of which came after Hurst broke the first tackle. Hurst’s extra effort brought Baltimore to midfield in a crucial moment.
That rookie connection.@Lj_era8 finds @haydenrhurst for 32 yards! pic.twitter.com/oC97PCdO5y— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 30, 2018
Mark Andrews 13-yard reception: Speaking of rookie tight ends, how about Mark Andrews? The third-round pick continues to make plays in the Ravens passing game and act as Jackson’s go-to option. His 13-yard reception may not seem like a big moment on the surface, but in the context of the game, it was incredibly important. On 2nd & 9, Jackson dropped back and immediately faced pressure from several Cleveland defenders. Lamar was nearly sacked for a big loss, which would have knocked the Ravens out of field goal range. However, he somehow managed to scramble out and deliver an accurate strike on the run to Andrews for a big conversion.
Make the play @Lj_era8 to @Mandrews_81 ! pic.twitter.com/djDuf7q0Zh— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 31, 2018
C.J. Mosley fourth-quarter interception: Mosley has had somewhat of an up and down season, despite earning another Pro Bowl nod. However, he made of the play of the season on Sunday and saved the Ravens playoff hopes. In a scenario that drew all too many similarities to last year’s collapse against the Bengals, Mosley intercepted Mayfield with 1:03 remaining in the game, ensuring a different result this time around. Had Mosley not made the play, the Browns could have potentially converted a 4th & 10 and moved into field goal range and all but spelled the end of the Ravens season. It was a game-sealing, season-saving play, there’s no doubt about it.
SEALED THE GAME. @TreyDeuce32RTR INT! pic.twitter.com/OgGctmNamY— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 31, 2018
What gets your vote for "Play of the Week"?
This poll is closed
Jimmy Smith first-quarter interception
Lamar Jackson 25-yard rushing touchdown
Jimmy Smith second-quarter interception
Hayden Hurst 32-yard reception
Mark Andrews 13-yard reception
C.J. Mosley fourth-quarter interception