Takeaways From Ravens vs. Jets
How are we feeling this morning, Ravens Flock?
It's always a great day when you wake up AFC North champs … again … as the Ravens clinched the division on Thursday night with a 42-21 win over the New York Jets.
On a short week, Baltimore didn't show signs of slowing down. The Ravens controlled both sides of the ball en route to their 10th straight regular-season win to improve to 12-2.
Right now, there aren't any limits with a record-breaking second-year quarterback under center.
"I know he was good last year, but Lamar Jackson is great in 2019," Fox Sports' Joe Buck said. "This is the team to watch with the Super Bowl coming up on the 2nd of February in Miami. They have to be the odds-on favorite here in the AFC."
Here are some of pundits' takeaways from the win.
NFL World Reacts to a Record-Breaking Night
Jackson said he didn't even know at the time that he broke Michael Vick's single-season quarterback rushing record, but the rest of the NFL world was keeping a close watch.
When Jackson's 5-yard run broke the record, the crowd at M&T Bank Stadium erupted.
"What made Jackson's achievement even more special is that no one had gotten close to Vick's record, which stood for 13 years," ESPN's Jamison Hensley wrote. "Before Jackson began sprinting past tacklers, the most rushing yards by a quarterback since 2006 came from Russell Wilson, who ran for 849 yards in 2014 – 190 yards shy of the mark."
"To better understand how effective the Ravens signal-caller has been this season, his historic performance goes beyond raw yardage numbers," Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski wrote. "Jackson became the first quarterback ever with multiple games of five touchdown passes and 80 rushing yards, per Stats by STATS. Cam Newton is the only other quarterback to have done it. The 22-year-old also tied Newton's career mark with his third game of four or more passing touchdowns and 50 rushing yards, per NFL Research.
"Any counterargument against Jackson at this point is rather simple and superfluous."
That wasn't the only record Jackson accomplished. He tied the franchise record for most passing touchdowns in a season (33). He also set the single-season record for the most touchdowns by a quarterback 22 years old or younger.
"His passing efficiency this season has been nothing short of phenomenal, especially in tight quarters," Sobleski wrote. "... Quarterbacks must be far more precise and judicious in their reads and throws. Jackson is putting together an all-time great season from the extended red zone."
With more records for Jackson came records for his teammates as well. Mark Andrews broke the franchise single-season touchdown record for tight ends (8), while Marquise "Hollywood" Brown tied the franchise rookie touchdown receptions record (7).
The MVP Race Is Over
Jackson entered Thursday night as the odds-on favorite to win the NFL MVP award and did everything to solidify his case. On a record-breaking night, Jackson rushed for 86 yards, adding 212 passing yards and five touchdowns.
"We truly saw the MVP," NFL Network's Michael Irvin said. "He solidified it today with breaking the record and just the passes he made … They're adding that last element that they need before they get into the playoffs, and that will make them unstoppable."
As "M-V-P" chants reigned down from the crowd, Press Box's Bo Smolka believes there's no more debate who the winner is.
"Jackson has heard every criticism and answered every challenge this year," Smolka wrote. "His will to win is ferocious, and he's the reason that this team on the brink of the No. 1-overall seeding. With all due respect to other outstanding players, the MVP award is his."
Smolka said Jackson has done as much to solidify his MVP case with his arm as he's done with his leg. Jackson leads the NFL in touchdown passes and has done it in a season where he's sat during the fourth quarters of multiple blowout games.
"But what if those games remained close and Jackson was forced to play all 60 minutes in a shootout — something his MVP competitors have used to pad their stats?" Ravens Wire's Matthew Stevens wrote. "What would his stats look like then? How many games would Jackson have thrown for six, seven or even eight touchdowns? Could Jackson have legitimately broken that NFL record too?
"The fact that I'm even thinking about it and questioning it is what leads me to believe Jackson's name is already engraved on the award but he just hasn't been handed it yet."
After Russell Wilson struggled in a 28-12 loss to the Los Angeles Rams last week, the same opponent who Jackson tossed five touchdowns against, the gap between No. 1 and No. 2 in the MVP race continues to widen.
Run Game Runs Over Jets' Top-Ranked Defense
The Jets came in allowing just 78.8 rushing yards per game, but the Ravens' rushing attack continued to prove they're matchup-proof even against one of the NFL's top-ranked defenses.
"Statistically, the intrigue of Thursday night's matchup lay within the Jets' second-ranked rushing defense slowing down the Ravens' top-ranked rushing offense," NFL.com's Grant Gordon wrote. "All that intrigue was run over by the Ravens in the first quarter."
Led by Jackson and Ingram, the Ravens rushed for 218 yards. It came on a night where Jackson did the majority of his damage through the air. Still, the Ravens took advantage of a front seven that was missing key pieces like linebacker C.J. Mosley and rookie defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.
At times, it's a one-two punch with Jackson and Ingram, but the Ravens also have a bruiser in Gus Edwards who continually picks up positive yards. Justice Hill adds another wrinkle of speed out of the backfield.
The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker believes Ingram has had one of the best seasons by a running back in franchise history.
"Rarely do you watch him run the ball and feel he's left anything on the table," Walker wrote. "That was certainly the case against the Jets' normally stellar run defense. Ingram ran through the first hit almost every time he touched the ball on the way to 76 yards on 13 carries and his fourth touchdown catch of the season.
"It's a testament to how much he makes of each play with his violent running style. Ravens backs have delivered several truly great seasons over the years, from Jamal Lewis' 2,066-yard masterpiece in 2003 to Ray Rice's 15-touchdown peak in 2011. Ingram's all-around effort in 2019 belongs in that pantheon."
Ingram needs just 37 yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark. The Ravens haven't had a running back accomplish that feat since Justin Forsett in 2014.
Ingram's Postgame Interview Skills Are on Point
You won't find yourself a better hype man than Ingram. From "big truss" at the podium to his chants on the sideline, the veteran running back has been the ultimate hype man this season.
During the postgame interview with Fox Sports' Erin Andrews, Ingram flipped the script and got his chance to interview his star quarterback.
"The 2019 Ravens are having fun," The Baltimore Sun wrote. "And after yet another victory, their 10th straight, on Thursday night over the Jets, it's easy to see why."
After his career is over as a running back, we could see Ingram the reporter. What can't this man do?
"Other players in the league should most definitely take notes," NBC Sports Washington's Raichele Privette wrote. "Ingram was natural. He had big energy and good pacing. He could possibly have another career as a reporter."
Special Teams Struggles an Area of Concern
John Harbaugh was open about the special teams struggles. Justin Tucker missed a rare extra point, Sam Koch's punt was blocked and returned for a touchdown, and the Jets gained chunk yards in the return game.
"That kind of play is shockingly unusual for the Ravens, who consistently rank among the league's top special-teams units, and it will surely infuriate Harbaugh, who cut his teeth as a special teams coach with the Philadelphia Eagles," Smolka wrote. "First-year special teams coordinator Chris Horton is going to have a fretful time watching the film of this game.
"The Ravens were fortunate that these errors didn't prove critical against the Jets, but when the margin of error is less come playoff time, mistakes like this could be much more costly."
"There aren't many weaknesses in the Ravens' statistical profile, but they came into Thursday's game averaging just 17.9 yards on kickoff returns and allowing 22.1 yards on opponents' returns," Walker wrote. "Those numbers got worse against the Jets as they allowed 179 yards on seven kickoff returns while gaining just five on one return of their own."
Of course, missing one of your top special teams players in linebacker Chris Board doesn't help. But Walker also noted that the Ravens hadn't gotten much production from their return game either.
"The Ravens have generated almost nothing on their own kickoff returns,"Walker wrote. "De'Anthony Thomas has averaged 12.2 yards on six returns since taking over the job in Week 10, with the team often preferring to accept touchbacks."
Baltimore has consistently been one of the best in the business when it comes to special teams, and will have an extended period to look over the tape and make adjustments.
Even as AFC North Champs, Ravens Still Keeping Their Sights Set Forward
The last two weeks have called for celebration. The Ravens clinched a playoff berth and a division title for the second straight season, but they continue to keep their sights set on a bigger goal. That was evident to pundits even after a blowout win.
"Few would dispute that the Ravens have entered the regular season's home stretch as the NFL's best team, and their ambitions match that esteem," The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer wrote. "They didn't cheer too loudly when they secured their playoff ticket Sunday. They didn't rush the field in ecstasy as the seconds ticked away Thursday at M&T Bank Stadium. This was not like 2018, when the Ravens needed a Week 17 win to extend their season."
There was still plenty of excitement. You expect it when your team has won 10 straight games, but the scenarios become even simpler now.
The Ravens clinch a first-round bye with a Patriots or Chiefs loss. Baltimore can secure the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the AFC with a win or losses by the Patriots and Chiefs.