Lamar Jackson, Ravens run over Giants to continue playoff push - Jamison Hensley
The Ravens scored on all four of their first half drives and hammered out 249 yards rushing against the league’s No. 6 run defense. It marked the third time in four games that the NFL’s top ground attack has totaled over 200 yards rushing.
Jackson has been one of the game’s best in December. Over the past three seasons, Jackson is 12-1 in this month, throwing 24 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
Describe the game in two words. Another beatdown. Jackson doesn’t let up against lesser opponents, and the Giants (5-10) found that out Sunday. Jackson is 9-0 against teams that are at least three games below .500, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In those games, Baltimore has been dominant, winning by a total of 141 points, an average margin of 17.2 points per game.
Promising trend: The Ravens are revving up their pass rush. Baltimore sacked Daniel Jones six times, which included three straight plays in the fourth quarter. Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale stressed patience when Baltimore recorded four sacks in six games when quarterbacks got rid of the ball quickly. In two games since, the Ravens have totaled 11 sacks.
Baltimore averaged at least 6.0 yards per play both through the air (7.2 yards) and on the ground (6.0 yards). Lamar Jackson didn’t pile up a massive yardage total through the air, but he was efficient when he did pass, with an adjusted completion percentage of 82.6%. Mark Andrews was Jackson’s primary target with a team-high 76 receiving yards and a pair of contested catches.
On the ground, each of Jackson, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards had over 75 rushing yards, and the Ravens’ rushers combined to pick up 14 first downs and a touchdown on the ground. It was a strong showing against a Giants defense whose strength is their run-stuffing interior defenders.
For the Ravens, Patrick Queen had one of his stronger games of the season in coverage but made just four tackles while missing another. That would be his 22nd missed tackle on the season. He did pick up a few pressures on unblocked opportunities, as well.
It was another week where Justin Madubuike made a play for the Ravens, coming up with a sack on one of his 12 pass-rushing snaps in the game. His development late in the season is promising for Baltimore heading into 2021.
Dobbins’ speed is a difference-maker, as his ability to put a foot in the ground and blast upfield at 100 mph left Giants defenders grasping air. Jackson was playing a firebrand of football, whether on the ground or through the air. The QB threw for 183 yards and two TDs — his stat line would have looked prettier had Mark Andrews been able to squeeze a couple TD opportunities. Looking like it was 2019, the Baltimore offense destroyed a Giants defense that had been stout against good teams in previous weeks.
The Baltimore defense blasted Daniel Jones time and time again. The QB was sacked six times as Wink Martindale brought the heat late with a big lead. Only defensive penalties kept a Giants’ drive alive late for New York’s lone TD drive.
The Ravens (10-5) are a team no one wants to see right now in the playoffs. The unique brand of football, coupled with the fact that they’re playing on fire right now, makes them a dangerous postseason opponent. The Ravens got help to get into the tournament with an Indianapolis loss Sunday. John Harbaugh’s team now just needs a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17 to make the playoffs.
The Steelers trailed the Colts, 24-7, in the third quarter before rattling off 21 straight points. Pittsburgh won the AFC North title, ending a three-game losing streak. While the Ravens never want to see their rivals celebrate, they’re happy for the open door.
Minutes later, the New York Jets held on to beat the Browns, 23-16, after Baker Mayfield fumbled on back-to-back drives to end the game.
Even if the Ravens were to fall to the Bengals, they would get into the postseason with a Browns loss to the Steelers, although Pittsburgh could rest its starters.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the NFL is fining the Ravens $250,000 for their late November COVID-19 outbreak, but they are not being stripped of a draft pick. The Ravens are the fifth team to be disciplined for protocol violations and team outbreaks, and it’s the smallest punishment. The New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans were fined $350,000, while the Las Vegas Raiders and New Orleans Saints were fined $500,000 and stripped of a draft pick.
The Ravens’ outbreak was significant. At least four separate strains of COVID-19were found in the team facility, which resulted in 23 players — including QB Lamar Jackson — being placed on the COVID-19 list over a period of 10 days. The Ravens’ game against the Pittsburgh Steelers had to be postponed three different times, and their game against the Dallas Cowboys was postponed twice.