The Baltimore Ravens have a clear goal in mind, which requires them to win their remaining games, starting with the Jacksonville Jaguars today. The Ravens took care of business, bludgeoning the Jaguars 40-14 to pick up their ninth win of the season and continue their hunt for a playoff berth.
Everything was seemingly set up for an upset here. Baltimore was coming off a tough Monday night matchup against the Cleveland Browns, giving them a short week. Injuries had already piled up for this team but grew even more this week, seeing several defensive starters ruled out before kickoff. But the Ravens shook off a rough start and put together arguably their best game of the season, looking good on both sides of the ball against a still-talented Jaguars team.
With Week 15 in the books for Baltimore, here’s all the important information you need to know immediately following the final whistle.
It was over when . . .
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It was over well before this point as the final score indicates, but Lamar Jackson’s five-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was the final nail in the coffin of this game.
Jacksonville had just scored their first points of the game, sustaining their longest drive of the game. The Jaguars were building some momentum and the score wasn’t quite out of reach enough to make anyone feel comfortable. But Baltimore answered with a long drive and score of its own, settling things down and squashing any comeback thoughts before they had a chance to come to fruition.
The Jaguars had largely contained Jackson in the first half, committing multiple players to keep an eye on where he was. But on this drive, either the Ravens found the right counter to those spies or Jacksonville needed to pull defenders elsewhere and Baltimore made them pay. Jackson broke off an 18-yard run earlier in the drive before walking into the end zone on his five-yard touchdown run.
It might not have been the most demoralizing touchdown scored but it showed that the Ravens could counter anything the Jaguars had for them.
Stars of the game:
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
⭐⭐⭐ LB Patrick Queen
Queen spent the first few drives in the backfield just as often as Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew. He was quick through the hole as a blitzer and at one point, threw a blocker aside to get into Minshew’s face. Though he didn’t have any crazy splash plays, Queen finished the game with six combined tackles, one sack, two quarterback hits, and three tackles for a loss. That’s about as good as you can expect a rookie linebacker to be in Week 15 and likely has him in the running for a weekly award.
⭐⭐ RB J.K. Dobbins
Dobbins owned the first half of this game, averaging nearly six yards a carry. He was explosive in all areas; showing burst to the hole and through it, vision and speed on the outside, and tough running through contact. He also added a little to his game as a receiver out of the backfield, catching a 17-yard pass. While the team didn’t do the greatest job of feeding him the ball in the second half, he helped keep Jacksonville’s defense honest and was someone they clearly made adjustments in the gameplan at halftime to stop.
⭐ DE Yannick Ngakoue
Ngakoue has been a finger-length short of seemingly a half-dozen sacks in his few games with Baltimore but just couldn’t get it done. While he’s been a solid addition to the team, the success of pass rushers is often measured in sack totals. Against his former team, Ngakoue got the job done, notching two sacks and a forced fumble. If he can continue to close that gap as a pass rusher while learning how to be an edge setter in Baltimore’s scheme, Ngakoue is going to be something special in this purple uniform.
Quote of the game:
AP Photo/Julio Cortez
He’s playing, definitely, his best football of his young career. He’s been very physical — you know, he’s a really good athlete, he can really bend and move his feet — and I think his anchor has really improved. He’s a guy that just takes coaching and says ‘Yes sir, OK’ and tries to do it, and it’s paying off for him.
— Coach John Harbaugh talking about right guard Ben Powers
While there are a few reasons for Baltimore’s renewed success running the ball, I don’t think you’ll find a better answer than with Powers entering the starting lineup.
Powers got his first start of the season at right guard in Week 11 against the Tennessee Titans and he hasn’t looked back since. It’s no coincidence that the Ravens have gained a total of 942 rushing yards since Powers became the starter, averaging more than 188 rushing-yards-per-game over that time — an increased average of 24 yards-per-game from the first nine games.
Now it’s certainly worth questioning Harbaugh and the rest of the coaching staff why it took so long for Powers to be put into the starting lineup, but those questions can wait for the time being. Baltimore is seemingly getting hot at the right time, and this offensive line might just have been the final puzzle piece to unlocking the Ravens’ mojo for a playoff push.
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The Ravens will get the New York Giants next on the schedule, playing them next Sunday. The Giants still have to play their Week 15 game against the Cleveland Browns on “Sunday Night Football” at the time of writing this, entering Week 15 with a 5-8 record.
New York has been hit hard by injuries themselves, already down starting quarterback Daniel Jones and starting running back Saquon Barkley to injured reserve. But the Giants’ defense has been quietly getting it done, ranking ninth in points allowed and 10th in yards allowed this season.
This will be the first game since Nov. 22 that Baltimore will both have a full week of preparation for and won’t be played at night.