The Baltimore Ravens entered Week 16 with a chance to clinch the top seed in the AFC and home-field advantage through the playoffs. The Ravens also had the opportunity to avenge their last loss of the season which came at the hands of Cleveland in Week 4.
The game did not start how Baltimore hoped as they failed to convert on fourth down on their first drive and fumbled on their second. The botched exchange between Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram led to the Browns finding the end zone first.
Mistakes killed the Ravens on defense as an interception on fourth down by ILB L.J. Fort was wiped away with a holding penalty on CBMarcus Peters, giving Cleveland a new set of downs. Later, on another fourth down, OLB Matthew Judon was flagged for encroachment which let to another set of downs and eventually a touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield to TE Demetrius Harris. The missed extra point kept the score at 6-0.
Baltimore’s offense continued to struggle as they punted on the next two drives. Suddenly, however, with just under two minutes left remaining in the first half, Jackson and the offense exploded. Jackson connected with Ingram for a 24-yard pickup, followed by a 39-yard touchdown pass to TE Mark Andrews who was wide open on the play. Jackson broke the franchise record for touchdown passes in a season with 34 and Andrews broke the franchise record for touchdowns in a season by a tight end with nine on the play.
The offense got the ball back again with 1:02 remaining in the half after the defense forced a quick three-and-out. Jackson was on fire, connecting with Andrews for a 24-yard gain, rookie RB Justice Hill for 14 yards, and WR Seth Roberts for completions of 12 and 11 before once again hitting Andrews for a touchdown, this time from 14-yards out. Jackson somehow evaded the surrounding pressure in the pocket and was able to step up and throw the ball to where only Andrews could catch it, and an impressive catch it was for his second score of the day.
The Ravens rode the momentum to start the second half as well, eating up 7:24 off the clock in the third quarter on a 69-yard drive that lasted 13 plays and ended with another Jackson touchdown pass, this time to Ingram to give Baltimore the 21-6 lead after being down 6-0 with just under two minutes to go until halftime.
Each team traded field goals on the their ensuing drives, bringing the score to 24-9 before the Browns cut into the lead with a touchdown pass to WR Odell Beckham Jr. from three yards out after a facemask against CB Jimmy Smith gave Cleveland a new set of downs inside at the three-yard line. Mayfield failed to connect with tight end Ricky Seals-Jones on the two-point conversion attempt, keeping the score 24-15.
The Ravens offense responded with another touchdown though. The drive went for 84-yards and ended with an 18-yard rushing touchdown by Hill to put Baltimore ahead 31-15. Ingram left the game on the previous drive with what is being reported as a calf strain.
The defense put the nail in the coffin when cornerback Marlon Humphrey intercepted Mayfield. The offense was then able to drain out the clock. With the win over the Browns, the Ravens clinched home-field advantage through the playoffs and ensured yet another losing season for Cleveland.
Jackson officially put the MVP race to bed with another spectacular performance, throwing for 238 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 103. HC John Harbaugh has remained non-committal on whether or not Jackson or any other starters will play next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.