The train just keeps rolling. It wasn't the prettiest football game (particularly in the 1st half), but the Ravens took gained the upper hand early and maintained control pretty much throughout.
The Jaguars are a decent football team that played a sloppy one. There's really not much of an excuse for them to have not had at least 6 points on the board in the 1st half as a minimum. The Ravens have had very little luck this year in the form of opponents missing FG's, and they were fortunate enough to have McManus do that twice. They weren't easy kicks granted, but it went a long way to keep the Ravens in control. The Lawrence fumble was a thing of beauty. I'd say once or twice a year you catch a break like that where a team just totally vomits on itself. That was pretty costly. And then the snafu to end the half... *chef's kiss*... a complete masterclass of ineptitude by the Jags to stake the Ravens to a 10-0 lead.
All of that becomes a footnote to what was yet another pretty damn good game by Lamar Jackson. Outside of the boneheaded pick where he should've just taken the easy play... he was spectacular. The revolving door on the OL created some early pressure, but he didn't get rattled and stayed strong in the pocket. He used his feet exactly as much as I'd like to see him use them. When the yards are there and they're easy, take em. Mix in a few keeps by him when the read calls for it. I think we kept him in the garage a little bit more this year and rightfully so given the way the past 2 seasons ended... but our best chance to beat the best teams in this league is to fully unleash all that he's capable of. We got a good taste of that tonight.
His passing statline is pretty typical for him. The type of statline that doesn't quite tell the full story on why he's an MVP candidate. He made numerous special throws tonight. The one that Odell couldn't haul in was a beauty. The one where the backer blitzed up the middle and he just fired a pea and took the hit was another. And of course... this one to Isaiah Likely was the play of the game.
This game was a real nice view into what Likely can be in this offense. Seeing him and Kolar each get vertical and catch seam routes is an awesome sign as they try to replace Mark Andrews' presence in this offense, and we saw some of that typical YAC that we know Likely is capable of.
The run game was very strong too. Losing Keaton Mitchell is devastating... he's one of the best stories on this team and he's almost assuredly cooked for the year. With that said, while he does bring a different dynamic than his peers... that's a position group that we can probably afford to have a loss at. Just sucks because Keaton had been such a dude the past few weeks.
Lastly... has to be said yet again that this defense is special. Madibuike and Hamilton are each getting their proper due in these nationally televised games we've been playing in, and they're a big part of what makes this defense tick. I'm not sure if I've seen a team in the past decade that tackles as well as the 2023 Baltimore Ravens. They just get guys on the ground. The secondary is physical, the pass rush is deep, Mike MacDonald is a brilliant DC, and the backers just swarm to everything in the flats. They're the perfect defense for 2023 football.
Ravens maintain their position as the #1 seed in the AFC. Niners up next on Christmas night in a big time popcorn matchup. Gonna be a lot of fun and then some. And oh yeah... Festivus ticket has been punched. Now let's make the AFC come through the Bank.