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In a battle of division leaders and Most Valuable Player candidates, quarterback Lamar Jackson passed for four touchdowns and the Ravens defense contained Deshaun Watson and an explosive Houston Texans offense, extending control of the AFC North with a comprehensive 41-7 win Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

In three-plus quarters, Jackson finished 17-for-24 for 222 yards and four touchdowns, along with nine carries for 86 yards. He outdueled Watson, one of the NFL’s top passers, who was 18-for-29 for 169 yards and an interception, along with six sacks.

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With the win, the Ravens (8-2) have a six-game winning streak for the first time since 2000, the season that ended with a Super Bowl championship. They also now have a three-game lead on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North ahead of a prime-time game next Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams.

Running back Gus Edwards had eight carries for 112 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter. He’s the first player to rush for over 100 yards against the Texans defense since Week 17 of the 2017 season.

After a scoreless first quarter in which Jackson started 1-for-6 for 12 yards, the Ravens got in gear. Jackson found wide receiver Seth Roberts for a 15-yard touchdown, his first score with the Ravens, then delivered an 18-yard strike to tight end Mark Andrews.

At one point, Jackson completed 13 straight passes, the second-longest streak of his career. The streak ended in the third quarter, but not before he found running back Mark Ingram II wide-open on a 25-yard swing pass for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, the two connected again, with Ingram making a defender miss in space before scoring from 12 yards out.

The Ravens defense, even without defensive tackle Michael Pierce, was sharp throughout the afternoon. Watson was uncomfortable against a disruptive pass rush, and only a 41-yard run by running back Carlos Hyde kept the Ravens from posting a shutout. Houston (6-4) was held to 4.1 yards per play, its lowest mark of the season.

Instant analysis

Daniel Oyefusi, reporter: The Ravens’ 41-7 beatdown of the Texans wasn’t a message. The message was sent weeks ago. Over the course of a six-game winning streak, the Ravens have taken on all challengers, big and small, and the result has been the same. Over the past three games, the victories have been in resounding fashion. Lamar Jackson continues to be the NFL’s most unsolvable puzzle, with another defense left unable to stop him and this Ravens offense. The defense switched up its scoring tendencies, but ended the game with a season-high seven sacks. This is a very good team, probably the best in the league, and there’s no debate there.

Jonas Shaffer, reporter: It’s a scary notion to consider, but we’re seeing how good this Ravens team will be if and when its defense catches up to the level of its MVP-quality star Lamar Jackson. You figured the Ravens’ brilliant quarterback was good for a handful of touchdowns and a highlight run or two. But it would’ve been hard to predict a seven-sack day that made Deshaun Watson look ordinary.

Peter Schmuck, columnist: Didn’t see that coming. The Ravens dominated a pretty good team in just about every aspect of the game. Lamar Jackson did his thing and broke off another crazy run that will be playing on all the highlight shows until he does it again next week against the Los Angeles Rams. The offensive theatrics aren’t surprising anymore, but the evolution of the defense continued from a point early in the season when it allowed 500-plus yards twice to the point on Sunday when Deshaun Watson and the Texans did not have an answer for just about anything. Dare we say that the Ravens are starting to look like a team that could do truly great things this season? You’d have to think so after convincing wins over several of the best teams in the NFL.

Childs Walker, reporter: Every week, the Ravens look more like a team that will play deep into January. Lamar Jackson delivered his usual MVP-level show against the Texans, highlighted by a third-quarter run nearly as spectacular as his spinning touchdown from the previous week. But the Ravens controlled this game as much with their defense as their offense. With two newly signed defensive tackles playing significant snaps, they shut down one of the best running attacks in the NFL. And they covered well enough that their pass rush consistently got home against one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Deshaun Watson. We might not remember this game as a major highlight in the overall story of the season, but the Ravens delivered perhaps their most comprehensive performance of 2019 against a dangerous opponent.

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