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What we learned from Ravens' victory over Jets

Lamar Jackson did it again in prime time. The MVP favorite led the AFC North champion Baltimore Ravens (12-2) to a 42-21 victory over the New York Jets (5-9) on Thursday evening. Here's what we learned from Baltimore's win:

  1. With his educated feet and underrated arm, Lamar Jackson took his 2019 tour de force to Thursday night and dazzled all the same, running past records, throwing for a quintet of scores and leading the Ravens to an AFC North title-clinching win over the Jets, 42-21. In Jackson's latest installment of amazement, he threw for five touchdowns (all to different targets) on a rather spotless night through the air that offered no interceptions and a 134.4 rating, while also setting a new single-season quarterback rushing record; he finished the evening with 86 yards on eight carries. The NFL zooms from autumn to autumn with rapidly changing schemes and designs. There's no telling if the opposition will catch up or slow down Jackson and offensive coordinator Greg Roman's offense, but the man who befuddled another defense and had M-V-P chants raining down on him is leading a full-speed offensive revolution that was televised for a national audience. When the bright lights dimmed on Jackson's latest four-quarter highlight reel, he had recorded his third game this season with four-plus passing touchdowns and 50-plus rushing yards, which, per NFL Research, tied Cam Newton for the most such games by any player in the Super Bowl era -- in a career. With tales of his second season still to be written, Jackson has consistently amazed and he's not slowing down and only the best of the best are catching up.
  1. Once upon a time in Baltimore, there was a losing streak -- all of two games. That was in the dying days of September and since then the Ravens haven't lost and have run roughshod over just about every team in their path to further glory. The latest left in their wake were the Jets, as the Ravens won their 10th in a row -- the most in their history. This was the season finale for "Thursday Night Football," but there was hardly a cliff hanger. The Ravens will move on to the postseason as a legitimate Super Bowl contender, while the Jets will carry on in their seemingly constant state of rebuild. For as many questions that remain for the Jets going forward into the offseason, there is promise for the Ravens. Along with Jackson and Mark Ingram, there is rookie receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown (caught his seventh touchdown) and second-year tight end Mark Andrews (caught a tight end-franchise record eighth TD) highlighting a burgeoning group of skill-position players seemingly getting better by the game. The offensive line is stellar, which can't be argued for a group of people movers leading a rushing attack averaging more than 200 yards rushing per game. And the defense, once the hallmark of the franchise, is rounding into form during the most important months of the football calendar, boasting the league's top scoring defense over the last eight weeks. An impressive win over the Jets hardly bolsters a resume, but their showcase performance on Thursday was further evidence -- if any was needed -- that the Ravens are a legitimate contender for the Lombardi Trophy.
  1. Statistically, the intrigue of Thursday night's matchup lay within the Jets' second-ranked rushing defense slowing down the Ravens' top-ranked rushing offense. All that intrigue was run over by the Ravens in the first quarter. Entering the evening, the Jets were allowing an average of 78.8 yards on the ground. Baltimore had 99 by the time the first stanza concluded -- or more accurately after its first two drives, which ended with a 13-0 lead (Justin Tucker missed an extra point in what was likely the most shocking negative to come out of Thursday for the Ravens). When Jackson, Ingram (13 carries for 76 yards, two total touchdowns) and Co. were done running around and through the Jets at night's end they had 218 yards on the ground. It was far and away the most given up all season by New York, having previously allowed 129 in a win to the Cowboys. Coming off a season-low of 118 rushing yards against the Bills, these Ravens are running past anyone and everyone.
  1. It was an imposing start from the Ravens, who scored on each of their first three possessions beginning with an emphatic, tone-setting 84-yard march to a 7-0 lead. However, the Jets still seemed to keep it close-ish in the first half, but ultimately it was a performance emblematic of a team that offers glimmers of hope and promise only to end up in head-scratching frustration. New York drove inside the Ravens' 35-yard-line on its final three drives of the opening half. On the Jets' third drive of the game, with plenty of end zone real estate, Jamison Crowder made sure to get his feet down first and catch the ball last and dropped a wide-open score. Fortunately for Crowder, he made a far more difficult touchdown grab on a Sam Darnold pass on the next play. Unfortunately for the Jets, that was the only score of said opening half. After an opening-drive three-and-out, there was a partially blocked Sam Ficken field goal, a turnover on downs at the Baltimore 7 and a Darnold pick from the Ravens 25. The Jets were close more than once in the first half, but far away from the Ravens when it all concluded.
  1. Back from a bout with the flu and a trip to the lanes, Le'Veon Bell turned in a season-high 87 rushing yards on Thursday. And therein lies the woebegone narrative of the Jets' free-agent splash that has been floundered. Though more productive than linebacker C.J. Mosley, who unfortunately found his way to IR, Bell's 87 yards were shockingly 17 more than any of his previous Gang Green rushing efforts. Career-lows currently dot Bell's stat line and speculation is already abounding on whether the all-world talent is long for Gotham. The versatile back had just one yard receiving on a pair of catches as Darnold struggled to make crucial throws and finished 18-of-32 for 218 yards, a pair of TDs to Crowder, an interception and an 85.2 rating. Bell's addition was prognosticated to assist Darnold's maturation. While the QB has shown signs of improvement and flashes of brilliance during the campaign, it's hard to surmise that a Jets offense ranked 31st in the league coming in has grown. Whether that falls upon Bell is certainly up for discussion. But when Bell's Thursday night stands as his best rushing performance, it's stunning statistical credence that Adam Gase's offense certainly isn't getting all it should be getting out of the two-time former All-Pro.
  1. While Bell was the biggest free-agent running back signing, Ingram was surely a lofty prize won by the Ravens. And though the majority of the headlines deservedly belong to Jackson, Ingram is likewise producing a magnificent season in the backfield for Baltimore. Quick to provide a sound bite and seemingly always on camera after the game, Ingram had another notable if unspectacular outing. He churned out 76 yards and a touchdown on the ground and added a 10-yard catch for a score. With 963 yards on the season, Ingram is closing in on his third 1,000-yard season, though it would be the first for the Ravens since Justin Forsett in 2014 -- the first by a running back, of course. Should Ingram get to 1,000, he would combine with Jackson as just the second quarterback-running duo to surpass 1,000 yards in the same season (joining Michael Vick and Warrick Dunn in 2006). The Jets forked over $52.5 million across four years for Bell, while the Ravens signed Ingram for three years and $15 million. While it's clear Baltimore found the better bargain, a more prevalent certainty is the Ravens found the right fit with Ingram. It's equally evident with Ingram's production on the field or his ear-to-ear smile every time he joins Jackson on camera.
  1. Though the remainder of Week 15 will need to play out to decide if the Ravens still have a No. 1 seed to play for -- they will clinch the top draw with a Patriots loss coupled with a Chiefs defeat or tie -- Jackson has plenty more standards to set. He can become the first quarterback to rush for more than 1,000 yards and finish with a 100-plus passer rating. Jackson can also become just the second quarterback and the first since 1951 to finish in the top 10 in rushing yards and rushing scores. And on and on, as two weeks' worth of canvas remain for Jackson to finish painting a masterpiece. But in the week ahead, Jackson and the Ravens will be preparing to avenge their last loss, which came in Week 4 to the Cleveland Browns, 40-25. Should the Ravens prevail in Week 16, Jackson, selected 32nd overall by Baltimore, can also claim victories this season over every quarterback drafted in 2018 ahead of him. When Jackson's 2019 tour de force began, it was with a resounding beatdown of the Dolphins, 59-10. Though Josh Rosen (drafted No. 10 by the Cardinals in 2018) did not start in that game, he did play. Just a week ago, Jackson's Ravens got past the Bills, 24-17, and Josh Allen (No. 7). On Thursday, Jackson and Co. knocked off the Jets and Darnold (No. 3). Ahead will be a rematch with 2018 No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield and the Browns. As Jackson and the Ravens march along, there is still intrigue ahead before the postseason commences.
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