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Ravens News 1/1: Clinching Statement

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Miami Dolphins v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

NFL Week 17 Game Recap: Baltimore Ravens 56, Miami Dolphins 19

Gordon McGuinness, PFF

Offensive spotlight: In a week where Jackson’s credentials as the 2023 NFL MVP were hotly debated, the Ravens quarterback did what he always does and did his talking on the field. He went 18-for-21 for 321 yards and five passing touchdowns. He added 35 rushing yards on six carries, but Sunday was all about the passing game. Tthe 2019 unanimous NFL MVP finished with multiple highlight-reel throws, including the 35-yard touchdown to Likely and a long pass down the right sideline to Odell Beckham Jr.

Defensive spotlight: The Ravens entered the game without two starting defensive backs in Kyle Hamilton and Brandon Stephens, and they were soon without another when Marlon Humphrey went down. That makes how Mike Macdonald and the defense stifled the Miami Dolphins, particularly in the first half, even more impressive.

The usual suspects stepped up and made plays for them on defense. Roquan Smith hauled in an impressive one-handed interception and Geno Smith picked his seventh pass of the year. Meanwhile, Justin Madubuike recorded a sack again, taking his total on the year to 13, and linebacker Patrick Queen earned a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.

Rookie spotlight: Lamar Jackson had missed Zay Flowers on numerous deep shots throughout the season so far but Sunday, they finally connected on a deep touchdown on that 75-yard score. Flowers finished the game with three catches for 106 yards and that touchdown.

Ravens vs. Dolphins score, takeaways: Baltimore clinches AFC’s top seed as Lamar Jackson makes MVP statement

Garrett Podell, CBS Sports

Why the Ravens won

Jackson played like the NFL MVP he is and like the 2023 NFL MVP he is about to be. He became just the fifth player in NFL history to have three career games with a perfect passer rating, minimum 15 pass attempts, joining Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Kurt Warner as future Hall of Famers Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger. Jackson was literally perfect, and that was the difference.

They are now the first team in NFl history to win consecutive regular season season game by double-digits against teams with at least 11 wins.

Turning point

Jackson’s 35-yard passing touchdown to Isaiah Likely with 1:24 left in the first half. The Ravens were facing a fourth-and-seven, and a stop by the Dolphins would have provided them the chance to make it a score game again just before the half. Instead, Baltimore went up 22, 35-13, essentially icing the game by halftime.

Play of the game

Jackson’s 75-yard touchdown to Flowers. This play showcased the type of reliable juice deep that Baltimore had been missing for years, and that game-changing vertical speed could make a difference for them this postseason.

2023 NFL season, Week 17: What We Learned from Sunday’s games

Nick Shook, NFL.com

Ravens drop another scoring bomb. Fresh off a statement win in which Baltimore scored at will against San Francisco, the Ravens did one better Sunday, dropping an outrageous 56 points on a Dolphins defense that resembled a colander more than a professional unit responsible for limiting an opponent. With Lamar Jackson leading the way, Baltimore made it look easy, scoring four touchdowns on its first five possessions, and finishing with eight end zone trips. Much like they did against the 49ers, the Ravens capitalized on turnovers, turning two of their three takeaways into scores. And even without the turnovers, the Ravens simply couldn’t be denied. This is the well-oiled machine most expected to see when Todd Monken took over as offensive coordinator, and he earned his extended face time on the CBS broadcast Sunday.

Next Gen stat of the game: The blitz was useless against Lamar Jackson Sunday, as the quarterback completed 5 of 6 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns against Miami’s blitz in the first half. It was Jackson’s most passing yards against the blitz in any half of his career.

NFL 2023 Week 17: Biggest questions, risers and takeaways

Jamison Hensley, ESPN

Did Lamar Jackson wrap up the NFL MVP award? It sure looks that way. Jackson, the betting favorite for NFL MVP entering this game, threw five touchdown passes and recorded a perfect passer rating (158.3) to lead the Ravens to the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the AFC North title. He is the best player on the NFL’s best team, and he carried a banged-up Baltimore team on Sunday with 321 yards passing and his first five-TD game since his 2019 MVP season.

Stock up after the win: RB Justice Hill. He caught Jackson’s first touchdown pass to a running back since Week 8 of last season, when he scored on a 20-yard wheel route. He also set up a second touchdown with a 78-yard kickoff return to open the second half.

Stock down after the win: Injuries to secondary. The Ravens were playing all five of their healthy defensive backs for most of the second half. Baltimore entered the game without two starters — safety Kyle Hamilton (knee) and cornerback Brandon Stephens (ankle) - and then watched cornerback Marlon Humphrey (calf) and defensive back Daryl Worley (head) leave the game.

Report card: Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 56-19 win over Dolphins

Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun

Receivers

The Ravens ran every route in the passing tree, from deep verticals to short crossing routes to slow drifters into the flats, and everything was open. They averaged 17.9 yards per reception. Hill led the team in catches, while Rashod Bateman had four receptions for 54 yards, rookie Zay Flowers had a 75-yard touchdown catch-and-run and Odell Beckham Jr. hauled in a highlight-reel 33-yard pass near the goal line. Tight end Isaiah Likely had two touchdown catches, including a brilliant one-handed grab for a 35-yard score in the second quarter. There were times when the Dolphins weren’t in the same zip code as the Ravens’ receivers. Grade: A

Coaching

There was concern about a letdown after the Ravens had a short week following such a physical game against San Francisco on Monday night, but they were even more dominant against Miami. This was their best game of the year. Defensively, they got off to a slow start, but coordinator Mike Macdonald made adjustments in the second half, especially with the linebackers in coverage. Offensively, coordinator Todd Monken was way ahead of his counterpart, Miami defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. The Dolphins privately complained about the Ravens running up the score, but that’s on them. Make a stop. Grade: B+