Ravens beat mistake-prone Jaguars for fourth consecutive victory and clinch AFC playoff spot
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Lamar Jackson was sacked, or so it seemed.
Jacksonville Jaguars pass rusher Dawuane Smoot had Jackson in his grasp — until he didn't. The Baltimore Ravens star quarterback spun away from Smoot, rolled right and lofted a pass toward the goal line. Tight end Isaiah Likely outmaneuvered two defenders to bring down the ball — and bring home a win.
The play of the game propelled the Ravens to a 23-7 victory at Jacksonville that clinched a postseason berth Sunday night.
“I just had to make a play, make something happen," Jackson said. “I just made something happen.”
Gus Edwards scored two plays later to put the Ravens (11-3) up 17-7. That was plenty against the mistake-prone Jaguars (8-6).
“It’s pretty unique,” Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith said of Jackson. “Some of the things he’s doing, he’s the only one doing it.”
Baltimore won its fourth in a row and moved a step closer to securing the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
The Jaguars lost their third straight — all against AFC North teams — and fell into a tie with Houston and Indianapolis atop the AFC South. Self-inflicted woes have been a common thread in Jacksonville’s skid.
“That's the head-scratcher," Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said. “That's the frustrating part. We can't get out of our own way and that's the frustrating part."
Trevor Lawrence fumbled twice in the latest letdown, including one in the fourth quarter that essentially sealed Baltimore’s eighth victory in its last nine games. He was placed in the NFL's concussion protocol after the game and not allowed to speak to the media.
This one may have been costly for the Ravens.
Promising rookie running back Keaton Mitchell suffered a season-ending left knee injury early in the fourth quarter. He flashed a thumbs-up sign as he left the sideline on a cart.
“It's heartbreaking,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He's just got a great attitude and demeanor about him.”
Added Jackson: “He was just starting to get started. That was a crazy injury."
The Ravens also lost starting left tackle Ronnie Staley (concussion) and free safety Marcus Williams (groin).
Jackson, Edwards, Likely and an elite defense did enough to overcome to the injuries.
Jackson threw for 171 yards — 70 of those to Likely — and ran for 97 more. Edwards added 58 on the ground, and Mitchell had 73 before his injury.
Lawrence threw for 264 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown to Jamal Agnew that gave the Jaguars life after a scoreless first half. But the Ravens answered with an unlikely play.
The Jaguars had four scoring chances in the first half but failed to cash in on any of them. They managed 181 yards, which was the most by a team in an opening half this season that did not score.
Brandon McManus missed two field goals from beyond 50 yards, and Lawrence inexplicably fumbled at the Baltimore 18-yard line. Lawrence simply lost the ball while scrambling on a third-and-17 play. He wasn’t going to pick up the first down, but Jacksonville surely was in makeable range for McManus.
Lawrence’s second mistake was even more of a head-scratcher. After connecting with Zay Jones for 36 yards and putting the Jaguars at the 5 with 15 seconds remaining in the half, Lawrence probably should have spiked the ball and stopped the clock. Instead, he threw a short out to rookie Parker Washington, who couldn’t get out of bounds and helplessly watched the clock run out.
“It's a great learning experience for us,” Pederson said.
Add it all up, and the Jaguars could have been up 16-10 at intermission. Instead, they trailed 10-0.
McManus’ first of two errant field goals was a 50-yarder that clanged off the right upright in the first quarter. He probably should have gotten a do-over.
Officials failed to throw a flag on Mitchell after he ran into McManus while he was finishing his follow-through. Holder Logan Cooke vehemently argued with officials, who later came to the sideline to explain themselves to Cooke and Pederson. Retired NFL referee and current NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay said the Ravens should have been penalized 5 yards on the fourth-and-7 play.
Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike tied an NFL record by recording at least a half-sack in 11 consecutive games. Madubuike sacked Lawrence in the fourth to tie the record held by Jared Allen, Chris Jones, Trey Hendrickson and Shaun Ellis.
Jaguars WR Zay Jones, who recently returned from a knee injury, strained a hamstring in the fourth. Ravens S Kyle Hamilton played through a knee injury that had him listed as questionable. He finished with seven tackles.
Baltimore: Plays at San Francisco on Christmas, another prime-time matchup between division leaders on the opposite coast.
Jacksonville: Plays at Tampa Bay on Dec. 24, also a game featuring division leaders.
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