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Ravens News 12/18: Well Earned

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NFL: DEC 17 Ravens at Jaguars Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2023 NFL season, Week 15: What We Learned from Sunday’s games

Bobby Kownack, NFL.com

Lamar’s ridiculousness, chemistry with Likely powers Ravens’ win. Baltimore just got a reminder of what it’s like to have Lamar Jackson available for the playoff push. The former most valuable player was electric Sunday night, his first time suiting up beyond Week 15 since 2020. He wasn’t perfect through the air, committing one bad interception and amassing just 171 passing yards on the night, but he consistently made chain-moving throws or left defenders in his wake on highlight-reel runs when the Ravens required it. Jackson paced Baltimore’s 251-yard rushing outing with 97 of his own. He combined the best he has to offer with his arm and legs on the play of the night when he shrugged off a Dawuane Smoot sack, dropped farther in the pocket to buy time and uncorked a long ball for Isaiah Likely to collect with a leaping grab between two defenders. The jaw dropper set up an eventual Gus Edwards touchdown to start off the final stanza, and it was also an indicator of the trust Jackson has brewing for his backup tight end. Likely led the team with five receptions and 70 yards. He was also the recipient of Jackson’s lone TD pass, a tight-window laser and the TE’s second score in as many weeks.

Next Gen stat of the game: Lamar Jackson’s 26-yard completion to Isaiah Likely in the third quarter included 7.24 seconds to throw, 1.3 yards of target separation and a 18.7% completion probability, Jackson’s second-most improbable completion in 2023.

NFL Research: With his strip-sack against the Jaguars, Justin Madubuike became the third player (since sacks became official in 1982) to have 0.5-plus sacks in 11 consecutive games within a season.

NFL Week 15 Game Recap: Baltimore Ravens 23, Jacksonville Jaguars 7

Trevor Sikkema, PFF

Offensive spotlight: It wasn’t a game where he emptied the ink on the stat sheet, but Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson continued to make the most impactful and clutch plays of the evening for his team to come away victorious.

Jackson finished the game 14-for-24 with 171 passing yards, one passing touchdown, and one interception while adding 97 rushing yards on 12 carries.

Defensive Spotlight: Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike was once again an absolute terror in the backfield for the opposing quarterback. He finished the game with one sack (the 11th game in a row where he has recorded at least 0.5 a sack), adding four quarterback hits and a forced fumble.

Rookie spotlight: Ravens rookie running back Keaton Mitchell was the top-performing rookie in the game. He finished the contest with 73 rushing yards on nine carries and 15 receiving yards on two catches. Unfortunately, Mitchell left the game with a knee injury and did not return.

Report card: Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 23-7 win over Jaguars

Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun

Offensive line

Guards John Simpson and Kevin Zeitler and center Tyler Linderbaum can hold their own against most opposing linemen, but tackles Morgan Moses and Ronnie Stanley continue to struggle. Stanley has problems with power rushers and can’t get enough support from his surgically repaired ankle to anchor down, while Moses struggles against speed rushers. The Ravens try to support them with chips from tight ends and running backs, but it’s hard to do that when both are struggling because it decreases the number of receivers in the passing routes. Stanley exited in the fourth quarter after a hit to the head and entered the concussion protocol. The Ravens gave up three sacks. Grade: C-

Secondary

Cornerback Brandon Stephens had a strong game and was physical, but came close to being called for pass interference several times. The Ravens controlled Jacksonville for most of the game but did have some communication problems on the back end on several long passing attempts. Cornerback Arthur Maulet played poorly for the second straight game. Safety Kyle Hamilton played well after suffering a knee injury last week and finished with seven tackles. He also knocked down two passes. Grade: C+

NFL Week 15 grades: Cowboys hit with an ‘F’ for blowout loss to Bills, 49ers earn an ‘A’ for beating Cardinals

John Breech, CBS Sports

Ravens

B+

Lamar Jackson’s numbers from this game won’t wow anyone, but he had an impressive performance against the Jaguars. He threw for 171 yards and a lot that came on broken plays where Jackson simply scrambled around until someone came open. And if no one came open, then Jackson would take off, which is a big reason why he led the Ravens in rushing on Sunday night with 97 yards on 12 carries. Defensively, the Ravens did struggle some in the first half, but they clamped down in the second half, holding Trevor Lawrence to just 116 yards with 65 of that coming on one play. The Ravens weren’t flashy, but they came away with the victory, and that’s all that counts.

The Breakdown: Five Thoughts on Ravens’ Playoff-Clinching Victory in Jacksonville

Clifton Brown, BaltimoreRavens.com

This Postseason Trip is Well-Deserved

Baltimore became the first AFC team to earn a playoff berth, doing it with three weeks remaining in the regular season.

Sunday night’s victory was the Ravens’ eighth win in their last nine games and they’ve been the most resourceful team in the AFC this season. They make game-winning plays on offense, defense, and special teams, they’ve overcome injuries to key players, and they don’t flinch when momentum shifts against them.

This wasn’t an easy assignment for the Ravens – a primetime road game against a talented Jacksonville team that is also fighting for a playoff spot. But for the second straight week, the Ravens won a nail-biting game that had a playoff-type feel.

Early this season, the Ravens had trouble holding onto late leads and it cost them. But now the Ravens are closing teams out, and they should be a tough out for anyone they face in the playoffs.

“We’re just getting started,” quarterback Lamar Jackson said.