Take-home points from Ravens’ division-clinching win over Jets
The Baltimore Ravens have won the AFC North in back-to-back seasons following their win vs. the New York Jets. Here are some things to think about.
The Baltimore Ravens clinched their second consecutive AFC North divisional championship by thumping the New York Jets on Thursday night and, once again, quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense gave the world a prime-time show.
Winning the division is huge. It gets you into the playoffs. It buys you a home game in said playoffs. And it sets you on a clear path for potential future glory. But, as the Ravens postgame shirts read, “The North is not enough.”
Let’s take a quick look back at their division-clinching win over the Jets, as the Ravens start to sharpen their focus on the end of this magical regular season.
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• What can really be said about Lamar Jackson that hasn’t already been said? The man was 15-23 for 212 yards, five touchdown passes, no interceptions and a passer rating of 134.4. Oh, he also ran for 86 yards, helping him break the all-time NFL record for rushing yards in a season by a quarterback. He is the most valuable player in the NFL this season, if he wins the official hardware or not.
But… you know… he should really win the hardware.
• Mark Ingram, and I say this nearly every game, was such a huge signing by the Ravens. He is a gifted north-and-south runner who provides pass-blocking and receiving abilities, which makes him a critical piece of the offense. That is all fine and dandy and well worth the money. But he is also a veteran voice of leadership on this team, who knows when to use his platform to boost others around him. Don’t underestimate his impact on this team.
• Mark Andrews gutted out a nice game, when many of us assumed he wouldn’t be able to play this game, and really could have had a big stat line had Jackson not missed him wide open up the seam. Ingram is huge for this team’s current run, as is Andrews. The big tight end also looks like a sure thing for the team’s long-term future.
• Without Ronnie Stanley, and already down Matt Skura, the Ravens offensive line did a nice job against the Jets. They are a well-coached unit that executes well as a group and are the foundation of this offense.
• The defense, I thought, played pretty well. Marlon Humphrey is being asked to do a lot when he is covering these shifty slot receivers, and he is a little out of his comfort zone, but it is what is needed by the Ravens this season, and Humphrey is scrapping and still making plays for this defense. The return of Tavon Young next season, if he can rebound from serious injury, would be more significant than most people are talking about. Moving Humphrey back outside, but with the interior skills he’s learned this season, makes him even more dangerous if he is asked to blanket a specific player.
• Jimmy Smith appeared to struggle a little against the Jets, but he also stepped up and made a couple of nice plays. Up-and-down in the same game happens with corners. Smart money is on Smith having a big game next week.
• The special teams, every element of it, needs some work. They aren’t popping big returns, they’re allowing too many big returns, they gave up a blocked punt for a touchdown and Justin Tucker missed an extra point. It is an odd season in Baltimore when the special teams struggle, the defense is having issues with the run and the offense is dominant. But here we are.
Kings of the North.