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Ravens News 12/21: Promising Trends and more

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Jacksonville Jaguars v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Lamar Jackson and Ravens again hitting stride in December - Jamison Hensley

Looking just as dangerous as he did in last season’s NFL MVP campaign, Jackson threw three touchdowns and ran for another as the Ravens routed the outclassed Jacksonville Jaguars 40-14 on Sunday.

This marks the first time Baltimore has scored 40 or more points in consecutive games since November 2019, when the Ravens had the league’s highest-scoring offense.

Promising trend: Domination in December. The Ravens are now 12-2 in this month since 2018, when Jackson took over as a starter. That’s the best record in the NFL in that span. Baltimore has outscored teams 398-161 in December in the past three seasons.

Pivotal play: Safety in the first quarter. Jackson’s interception on the opening drive gave some early hope for the Jaguars. Two plays later, linebacker Matthew Judon sacked Gardner Minshew in the end zone for a safety. Even with two top cornerbacks (Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith) and defensive end Calais Campbell all sidelined by injuries, the Ravens defense shut out the Jaguars for the first 35 minutes, 51 seconds of the game.

Week 15: What we learned from Sunday’s games - Michael Baca

Baltimore Ravens 40, Jacksonville Jaguars 14

Needing to win their final three games for a chance to make the playoffs, the Ravens (9-5) didn’t mess around against the overmatched Jaguars (1-13). Lamar Jackson’s day started with an underthrown interception on the opening drive, but the Ravens quarterback put together an efficient display; throwing for 243 yards (17-of-22) and accounting for three touchdowns on the day (two passing, one rushing). One of those TDs went to Dez Bryant, who got his first score in over three years. The threat of Jackson’s legs (35 yards rushing) and rookie running J.K. Dobbins (64 yards on 11 carries; one TD) in the backfield had the Ravens offense humming all afternoon. The blowout win allowed undrafted rookie QB Tyler Huntley to finish the game and give Jackson a cheap thrill with a couple of exciting runs. The Ravens take on the New York Giants in Week 16.

Yannick Ngakoue got some sweet revenge going up against his former team and his energy resonated with an undermanned Ravens defense. Ngakoue led the Ravens with two sacks, one of which forced a turnover fumble in the second quarter. The Ravens scored a safety on a Matt Judon sack for the game’s first score, and the squad had five sacks altogether in what was a flat-out dominant performance in the first half (zero points allowed). With Calais Campbell and Marcus Peters inactive, rookie linebacker Patrick Queen picked up any would-be slack, flying around the field for one sack (two QB hits) and six tackles, three of which were for a loss.

NFL Week 15 PFF ReFocused: Baltimore Ravens 40, Jacksonville Jaguars 14 - Holden Perrelli

STORY OF THE GAME

Baltimore’s pass-rush feasted on Gardner Minshew in the first half, pressuring him on 50% of his dropbacks for four sacks and a safety. Ex-Jaguar Yannick Ngakoue had himself a field day, notching four of the Ravens’ 20 pressures and a strip-sack of Minshew in the third quarter. The Jacksonville offense failed to convert twice on fourth down and gifted Jackson a short field as he helped the Ravens build a 26-point lead by halftime.

Jackson found Dez Bryant for an 11-yard touchdown today for his first scoring reception since Dec. 10, 2017, against the New York Giants. The Ravens’ quarterback finished 17-for-22 for 243 passing yards and three touchdowns. Jackson threw his fourth interception in five games but recorded his third straight game with a rushing score, too.

Baltimore’s 159 rushing yards on offense today is a good sign this team may be getting back to its 2019 roots at the most opportune time, especially with the Giants and the Cincinnati Bengals left on the schedule. If the Cleveland Browns lose on Sunday Night Football, the Ravens’ 2-0 record against the divisional rival will help mightily in the chase for a wild-card playoff spot.

Baltimore found itself down to four cornerbacks at one point because of injuries, and its best player on the back end struggled mightily. Marlon Humphrey played 388 snaps in coverage without allowing a touchdown this season only to surrender three in his past three games. Minshew completed 7-of-9 passes for 95 yards and a score when targeting Humphrey in the game.

NFL Winners and Losers: With Lamar Jackson heating up, perhaps the Ravens can still be a contender - Frank Schwab

Jackson hasn’t been nearly as bad as you might think. He has struggled at times. He won’t be coming close to his MVP form of a year ago. He has also been a little better than he has been given credit for, and the last few weeks have shown the Ravens are still capable of some special things.

The Ravens blasted the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. Jackson passed for 243 yards and three touchdowns and he rushed for 35 yards and a touchdown in a 40-14 win. That doesn’t mean too much considering the Jaguars are 1-13, but it’s the continuation of Baltimore quietly starting to look like a contender again.

If the Ravens put their playoff disappointments of the past couple years behind them and make a run, they’ll have to do it the hard way. They can’t win the AFC North. But the three-game winning streak has pretty much made them a wild-card lock.

Just making the playoffs won’t be enough. Questions about Jackson will persist if the Ravens go one-and-done again. But Baltimore is finally looking like a team that can fulfill some of its preseason expectations. The key to that is Jackson, who might never reach his ridiculous 2019 levels again, but is a player no AFC playoff team will want to see in the postseason.