Trenton After Thursday- Week 15
New York Jets @ Baltimore Ravens
The 5-8 New York Jets entered Baltimore hoping to pull an upset against the 11-2 Ravens, who currently hold the best record in the AFC as quarterback Lamar Jackson continues his MVP-worthy season. Jackson entered the night just 23 yards shy of Michael Vick’s quarterback single-season rushing record and it didn’t take long before he broke it in the first quarter. The Ravens put up three straight touchdown drives to begin the game and although they struggled to find the same success consistently through the rest of the game, the Jets simply could not keep up on offense. It certainly didn’t help with multiple key starters ruled out before the game even started. The Ravens won 42-21 against the Jets, though 14 of New York’s points came in fourth-quarter garbage time with the game far out of reach for. With the win, the Ravens clinched the AFC North title at 12-2 while the Jets dropped to 5-9.
Jackson Sets Record, Breaks Ankles, Stays Humble
Lamar Jackson has been thankful to his teammates and the fans all season and on the night where he broke Michael Vick’s single-season quarterback rushing record originally set in 2006. Jackson now has a chance to set the record even higher, but the humble quarterback refused to take all the credit and lamented that running back Mark Ingram didn’t get as many touches, stating that his goal was to get Ingram to 1000 yards rushing on the season. It’s hard not to like the second-year quarterback as he completed 15 of his 23 passes for 212 yards and five touchdowns while also leading the team in rushing with eight carries for 86 yards, including a sweet 25-yard scramble. Jackson was electric through the air with an incredible average completed pass thrown 10.9 air yards downfield. Combined with solid performances by Mark Ingram (13 carries, 76 yards), Gus Edwards (5 carries, 35 yards), and Justice Hill (4 carries, 15 yards), the Ravens scored touchdowns on their first three possessions and went into halftime with a 21-7 lead. From there, the offense took it easy but left fans wondering why Jackson stayed in the game and risked injury all the way until 7:30 remained in the fourth quarter. Two more touchdown drives gave him five passing touchdowns on the day and he escaped with no harm done but with the playoffs only a few weeks away, it may be worrying to some fans that the Ravens are risking injury to one of the biggest MVP candidates.
Jets Plagued By Turnovers, Inability to Finish Drives
It was no question that the Jets would have trouble keeping up with the fast, high-powered offense of the Ravens. A missed field goal on their second drive was crushing for the New York offense that struggled throughout much of the game. The touchdown drive that followed was encouraging, and the next drive that took almost eight minutes off the clock gave the defense a much-needed break on the sidelines but ending in a turnover-on-downs on fourth-and-one, just seven yards away from the endzone, gave the feeling that the game was already lost. Had those two scoring opportunities been converted into points, it likely would have been a more competitive game, but a terrible interception thrown by Sam Darnold on the final New York drive of the first half ended yet another promising start. Darnold struggled against the Ravens as his receivers could find no separation from defenders, finishing with 18 completions out of 32 throws for 218 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. At times, his passes were off target or in poor positions for the receivers and although they could have been caught, Darnold certainly wasn’t doing them any favors. To add to his interception, he was also strip-sacked, giving the ball up in Jets territory and allowing the Ravens to add to the lead. If there was one bright spot for the Jets, the special teams pulled through to take away some of the momentum from the Ravens on a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to make the score a little less lopsided. In the return game, receivers Braxton Berrios and Vyncint Smith and running back Ty Montgomery regularly gave the Jets good starting field position on punt and kickoff returns, though the offense was unable to make the most of it.