NFL Week 17 PFF ReFocused: Baltimore Ravens 38, Cincinnati Bengals 3 - Steve Palazzolo
STORY OF THE GAME
Of course, quarterback Lamar Jackson is the catalyst for the rushing attack, and he had 97 yards of his own on 11 carries, doing his usual fine work both in the designed run game and as a scrambler. In the passing game, Jackson finished 10 of 18 for 113 yards and three touchdowns and threw a beauty of a post route for a 43-yard score to Miles Boykin. He also found WR Marquise Brown with a well-placed touchdown on a scramble.
The Baltimore run blocking deserves plenty of credit for the dominant rushing attack, as OT D.J. Fluker and guard Bradley Bozeman had strong days, while fullback Patrick Ricard and a slew of receivers all got into the mix in the run game.
For the Ravens, WR Devin Duvernay had a 22-yard run and no catches on his 30 snaps.
Center Trystan Colon-Castillo had just 57 career snaps coming into the game, but he was excellent in both the run and pass game.
Dobbins was the offensive star for Baltimore, highlighted by his 72-yard touchdown.
LB Patrick Queen had one of his best games against the run, finishing with two run-game tackles and a stop on just 30 total snaps.
Box scores usually don’t tell the whole story of a game, but it would suffice for this one. Until the final 4:26 of the first half, the Bengals had gained just seven total yards of offense on nine plays. They’d possessed the ball for less than five minutes to that point, while allowing Baltimore to run out to a 17-0 lead. And by run, we mean it, as the Ravens had already barreled through 100 yards on the ground at that point. Cincinnati’s greatest play of the half came back on a penalty and added insult with Tee Higgins’ injury. Even when the Bengals tipped a Lamar Jackson pass and intercepted it at Baltimore’s 44, they gained just three yards before punting it away again. That was the day in a nutshell, with the Ravens (11-5) running away with it before calling off the dogs in the fourth.
Baltimore just keeps on winning with its style, maturing from a team that was more concerned about outsmarting the opponent and becoming one that stubbornly — and effectively — sticks to what it does best: Run the football. Baltimore racked up a gaudy 525 yards of total offense, with 404 coming on the ground in a total team effort. Rookie J.K. Dobbins led the way, gaining 160 yards and scoring two touchdowns on 13 carries, with 72 of those yards coming on one touchdown run. Jackson added 97 on 11 attempts, Gus Edwards chipped in 60 on 12 attempts and even Mark Ingram got in on the action, gaining 39 yards on nine totes.
The Breakdown: Five Thoughts on Playoff-Clinching Win - John Eisenberg
It seems like a lifetime ago, but Jackson was under scrutiny when the 2020 season began. Although he was the reigning league MVP, the Ravens’ 2019 season had ended with a playoff upset, dropping Jackson’s record as a playoff starter to 0-2. There was a lot of chatter about him having to wait until January to be able to prove anything new to the football world. That wasn’t fair for a player entering just his third season in the NFL, but regardless, Jackson seemed to struggle early in the season under the weight of whatever he thought was expected of him after his MVP season. No longer. His last five games have been as impressive as anything he did in 2019, culminating with his devastating blend of scrambles, dashes and passes Sunday. Now it’s time for another trip to the playoffs and a chance to address that chatter of months ago. There’s no telling what will happen, but what’s clear is Jackson could not be in a better place going in. Week after week, he is making play after play with supreme confidence, letting his unique talent shine. If it carries into the postseason, things could get very interesting around here.
Jackson Becomes First Quarterback to Eclipse 1,000 Yards Rushing in Two Different Seasons - Todd Karpovich
“I don’t know about the record part, but our offensive line did a great job, and our running backs helped me out a lot, and the receivers blocking down the field, tight ends doing their job,” Jackson said. “It’s a team record. It’s not just me out there. So, hats off to everyone on the offense.”
Jackson is the only quarterback in NFL history to produce at least 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a season. He is also just the third quarterback in league history to produce at least 35 passing touchdowns and seven rushing touchdowns in a season, joining Steve Young (1994) and Cam Newton (2015).
The Ravens started Trystan Colon-Castillo at center a couple of weeks ago and then he disappeared from the game day roster despite playing well. The undrafted rookie started for injured center Patrick Merkari on Sunday and played well again. He had some good combination blocks with guards Bradley Bozeman and Ben Powers, which allowed the Ravens to scrape off and make blocks into the second level. The Ravens still struggled in pass protection, especially in the first half. Grade: A
The Ravens were mentally prepared and there was no letdown. They established and stuck with the game plan early and were able to rest some injured starters for next week’s playoff game. The Ravens quickly reminded the Bengals that it was time for them to go home and play a lot of golf in the offseason. Grade: A