The Ravens secured their 11th and final win of the season in Week 17, steamrolling the Bengals by a score of 38-3. It was a one-sided affair from start to finish as the Ravens played high-level football on both offense and defense in a win-and-in scenario.
Takeaways from the regular season finale below.
1) Punching their ticket
The stakes for the Ravens entering this game were clear all week: defeat the Bengals and clinch a postseason berth. The Bengals had previously won 12 straight games in which they entered the regular season finale as an underdog, making them the ultimate spoiler team — something the Ravens are all too familiar with from 2017.
This time around, though, Baltimore made sure to leave no stone unturned. From the get-go, the Ravens came out firing on both sides of the ball. Just as they’ve done the past two weeks, the Ravens offense scored early and consistently, while the defense forced multiple three-and-outs to help Baltimore jump out to a double-digit lead in the blink of an eye.
By the start of the fourth quarter, the Ravens led by 35 points and Tyler Huntley had already replaced Lamar Jackson under center. As such, they spent the final 12+ minutes of the game coasting to a victory with the comfort of knowing the playoffs were on the horizon.
It’s a similar position to the one the Ravens were in when Week 17 rolled around last season but not one many envisioned the team being in again several weeks ago. Remember, not too long ago the Ravens were 6-5, riding a three-game losing streak, and quickly became the face of the largest COVID-19 outbreak of the NFL season.
Their season appeared to be on the cusp of being derailed but they picked up the pieces and managed to orchestrate a five-game win streak. Regardless of the level of competition or what have you, that’s an impressive feat.
2) Reaching new heights
Much has been made about the Ravens success running the football during the late-season win streak, and for good reason. Without a doubt, the Ravens rushing offense has been the best in the NFL for weeks on end now. However, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, what did they do?
Oh, you know, just rush for 404 yards as a team and nearly broke the single-game record for total rushing yards set by the New York Giants in 1950, which was 423. Had they kept their starters in during the fourth quarter, there’s almost no doubt the Ravens could and would have broken the record.
Again it was a group effort, but this time the starring presence in this game was undoubtedly J.K. Dobbins. Dobbins has been stellar for several weeks now but tapped into a new peak in the regular season finale. The rookie sensation turned 13 carries into a career-high 160 rushing yards and two touchdowns, highlighted by a 72-yard score late in the third quarter.
Dobbins’ previous season-best came in Week 8 against the Steelers, where he rushed for 113 yards, but he blew that out of the water on Sunday. Prior to his game-breaking touchdown, Dobbins had two rushes of 22 and 27 yards earlier, too, further evidencing his big-play ability. Behind Dobbins in the box score was the usual suspects of Jackson, who had 97 rushing yards, and Gus Edwards (12 carries, 60 yards). Six of Edwards’ 12 carries resulted in first-down conversions.
Following another dominant showing, the Ravens have now rushed for 3,000+ yards in back-to-back seasons. That’ll work, certainly.
3) Lamar Jackson makes history . . . again
It’s well-documented now that Lamar Jackson rushed for more yards than any other quarterback in a single season last year. Many speculated whether or not he could duplicate similar rushing production in 2020, as no signal-caller had ever put together back-to-back seasons with 1,000 or more rushing yards . . .
Jackson needed 92 rushing yards on Sunday to reach the 1,000-yard threshold. By the end of the first quarter, it was clear that a big rushing performance was in store, as the Bengals had no answers for Jackson inside of the pocket, outside of the pocket, or in the open field.
Of Jackson’s 11 carries on the day, four resulted in double-digit gains and five converted first downs. His scrambling ability continues to be driving force behind much of the Ravens offensive success and has unlocked much of what they’ve been able to do over the past five games.
Including today’s game, Jackson rushed for 80+ yards in four of the final five contests and 50+ yards in all but one game since Week 5. And much like last season, he again did it while averaging over 6.0 yards per carry — amongst the most efficient runners in the league.
Jackson is a special and unique talent at the quarterback position, which this latest record all but reinforces.
4) Defensive dominance over Cincinnati continues
Nobody would mistake the Bengals for being world-beaters offensively. However, what the Ravens defense did to Cincinnati’s offense this season should be criminal. After today, here’s what the Bengals did in two meetings against the Ravens:
- 22 first downs
- 400 total yards
- Five turnovers
- 4-of-25 on third down
- Six points
That is . . . not good.
On the surface, divisional games can sometimes be closer than many expect regardless of talent discrepancies — largely because the teams know each other’s tendencies since they play twice a year. Evidently, this notion meant nothing between the Bengals and Ravens.
The Ravens dominated Joe Burrow and company back in Week 5 and did so again versus the Brandon Allen-led unit fielded by Cincinnati today. It’s quite remarkable that the Bengals couldn’t manage to muster a single touchdown, let alone multiple field goals, in either of their two meetings against the Ravens — especially considering the garbage time nature that each game wound up spiraling into come the third quarter.
“Wink” Martindale 1, Zac Taylor 0.
5) Playoffs. Playoffs? Playoffs!
The heading above is self-explanatory but after a rollercoaster season filled with ups and downs and more than enough adversity, the Ravens clinching a playoff berth is a little sweeter this time around.
Anything can happen in January and right now, the Ravens are entering the postseason on a streak hotter than just about any other team in the NFL. Whether or not the momentum carries into next week and who they’ll be playing remains to be seen.
Either way . . . let the games begin.