The Baltimore Ravens have completed their end of the bargain as they try to stay alive in the AFC playoff hunt thanks to a 27-13 win over the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon. John Harbaugh's club has been tasked with winning out to keep themselves in the postseason conversation and they've checked off Step 1 of that endeavor in Week 16. Thanks to some help from the Jets, who beat the Browns, and the Steelers, who beat the Colts, Baltimore now has to just beat the Bengals in Week 17 to get into the postseason. According to CBS Sports analyst Stephen Oh's projections, the Ravens playoff chances improved from 72% to 96% over the course of Sunday's action.
As for New York, they are still in the NFC East race even in defeat but will need some help. Now, the Giants need both Philadelphia and Washington to lose their contests this week or their playoff hopes will be dashed for 2020.
Baltimore earned the win in this contest thanks to an early onslaught of offense from Lamar Jackson and company. That lead was enough to hold even as New York briefly flirted with the idea of a comeback in the second half when they cut the Ravens lead to 14 with a touchdown at the 6:29 mark in the fourth quarter, but it was simply too little too late for Joe Judge and his crew.
For a more detailed breakdown of Sunday's action, check out our takeaways below.
Why Baltimore won
It was sheer domination in the first half by the Ravens. John Harbaugh's club got off to as good of a start as he could ask for as Baltimore opened the game with a 13-play drive that traveled 82 yards and ended with a Lamar Jackson touchdown pass to Marquise Brown, who found a soft spot in New York's zone defense. From there, the Ravens continued to produce points and scored on every single offensive possession of the first half, which gave them a 20-3 advantage going into the break. Baltimore ran 44 plays on offense in that first half and held onto the ball for 22:38 minutes compared to New York's 7:22 time of possession. They also had 282 yards of total offense while the Giants were held to just 95 yards.
The second half was not as prolific, but the Ravens defense was able to get after Daniel Jones and sack him on three straight plays at one point. Even as they managed just seven points over the final two quarters, that opening blitz was enough of a cushion to keep them out in front.
Why New York lost
New York's defense was shellshocked out of the gate as they had no answer for Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense, who piled up 20 points prior to halftime. As Baltimore scored at a prolific clip early, the Giants punted twice and were in a 17-0 hole essentially before they could blink. Joe Judge's club ran just three offensive plays in the first quarter, which is the fewest in the last 30 years.
Even when they started to pick up some momentum on the offensive side of the ball, too often they were forced to settle for field goals, which was the case at the end of the first half and on their second drive of the third quarter when they got the ball as far down as the Baltimore 19. Their lone touchdown of the day came with 8:40 to play in the fourth quarter. The offensive line also didn't do Daniel Jones any favors as he was sacked six times on the day.
New York looked like they were picking up some momentum on offense during their final drive of the first half. They were down by 17 but managed to put together an 11-play drive that traveled 64 yards in the final minutes before the break. That gave New York an opportunity to cut into the Ravens' lead and, if they were able to get into the end zone, they'd be getting the ball back to begin the third quarter with a chance to cut it to just a three-point lead with a touchdown. Things didn't go according to that plan, however.
Instead, the Giants got as deep as the Baltimore 13 and couldn't get much further, having to settle for a field goal with just over a minute to play. From there, Lamar Jackson was able to quickly get the Ravens down the field to allow Justin Tucker to add three points to Baltimore's lead as they went into the break. Coming into the second half, the Giants couldn't initially carry that momentum and were forced to punt on a three-and-out. By the time they strung two scoring drives together, the Baltimore lead was too great.
Play of the game
This was the Lamar Jackson, who won the MVP last season. On a second-and-17 play in the fourth quarter, Jackson had pressure up the middle and was somehow able to fend off a Giants defender that was trapped over him long enough to complete a sideline pass to Gus Edwards, who then broke multiple tackles for 27 yards. Edwards finished his day with 85 yards rushing and caught both of his targets for 37 yards. Meanwhile, Jackson had 183 yards passing, two touchdowns, and added 80 yards on the ground.
From here, New York will finish out the regular season at MetLife Stadium for an NFC East matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. As for the Ravens, they'll head to Cincinnati to face the Bengals as they look to stamp their ticket into the playoffs.