Lamar Jackson certainly locked up the NFL MVP award Thursday night, throwing for five touchdowns in another dominant performance as the Baltimore Ravens cruised to a 42-21 victory over the New York Jets. The victory clinched the AFC North division title for the Ravens (12-2) for the second consecutive year, the first time Baltimore has accomplished the feat since the 2011 and 2012 season. The Ravens need a Kansas City Chiefs or New England Patriots loss to clinch a first-round bye and are one win away from locking up home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
Jackson was magnificent once again, having his third five pass touchdown game this season, which leads the NFL. He also leads the league with 33 passing touchdowns and he has thrown just six interceptions. On a nightfor most rushing yards in a season by a quarterback (1,106), he completed 15 of 23 passes for 212 yards, five touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 134.4 passer rating. Jackson also had eight carries for 86 yards as the Ravens offense had 384 yards of offense when Jackson was in, averaging 7.7 yards per play.
Jackson threw his touchdown passes to five different receivers, showcasing a balanced Ravens offense that had 212 passing yards and 172 rushing yards when he was in the game. Seth Roberts led the Ravens with three catches for 66 yards and a score while Mark Andrews set a franchise record for receiving touchdowns by a tight end in a season with eight. Mark Ingram had 13 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown, while also having a receiving touchdown in the win. The Ravens finished with 430 totals yards with 218 coming on the ground.
Lamar Jackson led the Ravens to their 10th straight win and there's a lot to go over, so Ryan Wilson and Sean Wagner-McGough joined Will Brinson to break everything down on the Pick Six Podcast. Listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness.
The Jets (5-9) were in this game for a half, but turnovers and miscues allowed the Ravens to turn a close game into a blowout. Sam Darnold had an interception and a fumble, but he threw for 218 yards and two touchdowns -- both of which went to Jamison Crowder, who finished with six catches for 90 yards in the loss. Le'Veon Bell had a season-high 21 carries for 87 yards, his best rushing game with the Jets.
Below are takeaways on this game as the Ravens are one step closer from earning home-field advantage in the AFC. For a further recap and analysis of this game, as it happened in the moment, visit our live blog as well.
Why the Ravens won
Jackson was beyond dominant again, a matchup nightmare for any defense in the NFL. This week he was playing with a banged-up quad on three days rest, but still led the Ravens to three touchdowns on their first three possessions. Jackson had rushed for 64 yards in that span and threw for two touchdowns, with the Jets having no answer for him. The MVP frontrunner was even better in the second half, throwing for three touchdowns as he finished the game with 9.2 yards per pass attempt. New York had no answer for Jackson, who used his arm and legs to set up the Ravens getting off to an early 21-7 lead, going 6 for 7 for 55 yards and two touchdowns on the first three touchdowns. Jackson had an answer for everything the Jets threw at him -- especially in the early going.
Why the Jets lost
The Jets had an excellent equalizer against the Ravens run offense, which entered the game first in the NFL averaging 200.5 rushing yards and 5.5 yards per carry. New York's defense allowed 3.0 yards per carry and 78.8 rushing yards per game. All the Ravens did was have 34 carries for 218 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry -- completely controlling the line of scrimmage against the Jets' front seven. When Jackson was in the game, the Ravens had 26 carries for 172 yards, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. The Ravens had three runs of 20-plus yards on their first three possessions -- the Jets allowed just three 20-plus yard runs all season prior to this game. Baltimore won the chess battle with New York resulting in a blowout loss for the Jets.
The Jets were still within striking distance of the Ravens in the third quarter, trailing 21-7 with the ball and another opportunity to cut the deficit to one score. Instead, Darnold created a disaster that helped Baltimore put the game away. On third-and-8 from the Jets' 35-yard line, Darnold stepped back to pass but never saw Ravens linebacker Tyus Bowser come off the edge and blow past the tight end for the easy sack.
Darnold never had a full grip of the ball and fumbled as he was going down. Jihad Ward recovered the ball at the Jets' 24-yard line, which was New York's second turnover of the night. The Ravens scored two plays later as Jackson found Marquise Brown for a 24-yard touchdown to put Baltimore up 28-7, which was the commanding three-score victory the Ravens needed to put away the Jets.
Play of the game
Jackson decided to take matters into his own hands as the Ravens faced a fourth-and-1 on their own 29-yard line with a 28-7 lead. Jackson signals the Ravens to stay on the field as they went for the bold decision to go for the first down. Jackson rolled to his right and bought enough time to find Andrews for the first down, a gain of 36 yards as Jackson threw the pass on the run.
Three plays later, Jackson found Seth Roberts for the 33-yard touchdown, his fourth touchdown pass of the night. On an evening full of highlight plays by Jackson, his leadership and ability to deliver a clutch throw on a risky situation was most impressive.
"It's pretty cool. He was my favorite player growing up. It's amazing and I'm going to cherish that forever. I just got to keep it going, you know records are made to be broken .. like (Mike Vick) said." - Lamar Jackson on breaking Vick's record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a season.
Jackson has 1,106 yards on 159 carries, leading the NFL with 6.96 yards per carry. Jackson is averaging 79 rushing yards per game and is on pace to finish with 1,264 yards. Jackson is currently fifth in the NFL in rushing.
The Ravens are inching closer toward wrapping up home-field advantage for the AFC playoffs, but they'll get 10 days off before they face off against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, December 22. The Jets host the Pittsburgh Steelers that same day in what will be Bell's first game against his former team.