The Ravens turned to two of their youngest rising stars and their oldest veteran for another crucial home win over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson and running back Gus Edwards spearheaded a rushing attack that combined for 242 total yards and swung the game early in the second half with two punishing drives, and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs put away a 34-17 victory with a 43-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
The undrafted Edwards finished with 23 carries for 118 yards, both game highs, and became the first Ravens rookie since Jamal Lewis, in 2000, to record back-to-back 100-yard games. Jackson shook off two interceptions to finish 14-for-25 for 178 passing yards and his first touchdown, along with 11 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Their effectiveness was never more apparent than when the game was still close in the second half. Up 13-10 at halftime, the Ravens (6-5) opened the second half with a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that took 6:50 off the clock. On their next possession, they marched 71 yards on 17 plays for a nearly nine-minute touchdown drive that stretched their lead to 27-17.
The Ravens put the game away for good on Suggs’ touchdown, which he ran back after a sack by outside linebacker Matthew Judon. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was rarely pressured until late, but he finished just 16-for-34 for 194 yards and a touchdown.
With the win over Oakland (2-9), the Ravens head into Atlanta next week still in control of the AFC’s second wild-card spot.
Jonas Shaffer, reporter: Lamar Jackson wasn’t great, but he was good enough to win against a woeful Raiders team.
If Joe Flacco returns to practice this week, all eyes will be on the quarterback situation. Atlanta’s not a dominant team, but the Falcons should be more solid defensively than the Bengals and Raiders.
Peter Schmuck, columnist: Though some allowance has to be made for the quality of the competition, Lamar Jackson showed that he could run a balanced offense. He threw a pair of interceptions, which kept his QB rating down, but he made some big possession throws that kept the offense on the field and allowed the Ravens to dominate time of possession in the second half.
He ran the ball only 11 times, letting Gus Edwards grind out another 100-yard-plus rushing performance — becoming the first Ravens running back with back-to-back triple-figure games since Justin Forsett did it in 2015. All in all, it was a very solid performance on both sides of the ball, but much stiffer challenges to the Ravens' playoff chances still lie dead ahead in Atlanta and Kansas City the next two weeks.
Childs Walker, reporter: When the Ravens unleashed their running attack in the second half, the Raiders had no answer. Which made it all the more puzzling that they went pass-happy in the first half. Lamar Jackson threw some pretty balls, especially a 74-yarder to tight end Mark Andrews. But he also seemed tentative at times as he debated whether to run or throw.
After two games, it seems a Jackson-led ground attack—with Gus Edwards as the primary ball carrier — is a fearsome weapon, especially against bad defenses. The Ravens will face a genuinely difficult question this week if Joe Flacco is healthy enough to prepare for the Atlanta Falcons. Is there a way to use Jackson for select drives while also making use of Flacco’s superior arm?
On defense, the Ravens finally made a big play in the form of Matthew Judon’s strip sack to set up a Terrell Suggs touchdown. They’ve been playing with little margin for error given their lack of sacks or takeaways. So that game-clincher had to be a relief.
Jen Badie, editor: For three quarters, it was not the blowout that many had expected. With questions during the week about whether Lamar Jackson could be a traditional passing quarterback, the Ravens took things a little too far in the other direction, with Jackson rushing just twice in the first half and completing half of his 18 throwing attempts (and throwing two interceptions).
But after halftime, the Ravens offense made adjustments and Jackson’s pass/rush ratio was more balanced. (In the third quarter, Jackson rushed six times and was 4-for-5 in passing attempts; plus he had a rushing touchdown.)
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This was a solid win on both sides of the ball (as the defense also got a touchdown off a turnover in the fourth quarter) in a game the Ravens needed to keep their wild-card hopes alive.