As long as Lamar Jackson is healthy, Baltimore can withstand a lot of problems.
Right now he is, and it’s the Ravens’ rivals who are dealing with injuries to their top passers.
Jackson and the Ravens did exactly what they needed to against a Cleveland team that was without quarterback Deshaun Watson, trouncing the Browns 28-3 on Sunday. Baltimore is alone atop the AFC North and already has road wins over Cleveland and Cincinnati. It appears the Ravens have the healthiest quarterback in the division with Watson, Joe Burrow and Kenny Pickett facing various ailments.
“We played a really good game on the road in the division against a team that is playing well and is going to have a heck of a season in their stadium — their crowd is very loud. It’s just one of those environments,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. “It was really an AFC North showdown game early in the season, and our guys did very well. They answered the bell.”
Jackson missed the end of the past two seasons, so his health can’t be taken for granted. Still, last weekend’s game provided a lesson: An injury to a star QB is different than any other health absence. The Ravens were missing quite a few key players, but they had their quarterback and Cleveland didn’t.
Baltimore is 48-17 with Jackson as the starter. When he’s been able to play, the Ravens have generally won, regardless of who else might be out.
Jackson was up against a very tough defense Sunday, but he managed to throw for two touchdowns and run for two, and that was more than enough.
“He’s the full quarterback,” tight end Mark Andrews said. “He’s not only just a full quarterback, he’s able to do so many other things that other quarterbacks can’t do. That’s a beautiful thing. Lamar Jackson’s second to none.”
For the second time in four games, Baltimore’s defense didn’t allow a touchdown. Yes, the Ravens were up against rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, but they held Cleveland to 166 yards, the lowest total by any team at home this season.
Baltimore had three interceptions and four sacks. The Ravens have a sack in 25 consecutive games, the NFL’s longest active streak and the longest in franchise history.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Jackson has thrown only one interception this season, but he’s been strangely fumble-prone so far. He has six of those on the season, three of which were lost.
“They’re not connected in a sense you can say there’s one theme to what’s causing fumbles,” Harbaugh said. “The fact that they’re fumbles is a theme, and they’re not good. We just can’t put the ball on the ground. It’s not something that we want to do. It’s something we work very, very hard not to do. It’s a main priority for us.”
Although rookie receiver Zay Flowers has received a lot of well-deserved attention, tight end Mark Andrews’ importance to the offense shouldn’t be forgotten. He had five catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns.
There aren’t too many nits to pick after such a comprehensive victory, but the offensive line allowed three sacks and committed several penalties — including a holding call on Patrick Mekari that wiped out a big gain.
The Ravens were up against a strong defensive front, and it wasn’t easy.
The Ravens put LB David Ojabo (ankle, knee) on injured reserve before the game, and Harbaugh said Monday the injury could be season-ending.
“There are decisions that have to be made that he has to make, in terms of how he wants to approach the injury issue that he has,” he said. “I think that’s still private and his concern. So, I would just say that is up in the air.”
150 — The number of regular-season wins for Harbaugh in his career. He surpassed Hall of Famer Bill Cowher for 24th in NFL history.
The Ravens play at Pittsburgh next weekend, and they’ll try to sweep their divisional road games for the third time since the current division alignment began in 2002. They did it most recently in Jackson’s MVP year of 2019.
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