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Ground-and-Pound Attack Leads Ravens past Buccaneers 20-12

December 16, 2018 - 4:36 pm

By Joe Schiller

The Baltimore Ravens likely welcomed soggy conditions on Sunday afternoon.

It’s the perfect compliment to the formula they’ve had success with under rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson.

The wet turf at M&T Bank Stadium provided plenty of challenges for the Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers but Baltimore stuck to their plan, rushed for 242 yards and grinded out a crucial 20-12 win to continue their playoff push.

For the fourth time in fifth games, the Ravens rushed for over 200 yards and it was a collective effort again from Jackson, Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon.

Both sides traded punts early on as players struggled to find the footing and grip on the football.

The Buccaneers recovered an aborted snap between Jackson and center Matt Skura late in the first quarter. They took advantage and Peyton Barber’s 3-yard touchdown completed an 8-play, 51-yard drive. A botched extra point gave Tampa Bay an early 6-0 lead.

But as he’s done in his previous starts, Jackson shook off mistakes and led the Ravens back from adversity. On the ensuing drive, the Ravens marched 73 yards down the field and answered on a 5-yard shovel pass from Jackson to Chris Moore.

The third-year receiver found the edge and the end zone to give the Ravens an answer as they took a 7-6 lead. Following field goals from from both kickers, Baltimore clung on to a slim 10-9 halftime lead with little margin for error.

The Ravens’ ground game made quick work coming out of the half. In 15-minute period that’s been completely dominated by Baltimore in recent weeks, they scored on their first drive in the third quarter as Gus Edward’s barreled his way into the end zone from 10 yards out.

Edwards led all rushers with 104 yards and his rookie counterpart added 95 yards on 18 carries, many which were on undesigned scrambles out of the pocket. Jackson kept the Bucs’ defenders on their heels and his elusiveness was unmatched by the 11-man opposition.

With a chance to extend their 17-9 lead, Cyrus Jones made a rare mistake and muffed a punt that would have dribbled away. Instead, the Bucs took over in plus territory but were held to a 28-yard field goal on an impressive defensive stand from the Ravens.

Wink Martindale’s unit held the league’s top passing offense 157 yards through the air, 121 which came from Mike Evans. The Ravens struggled to contain the big-bodied receiver but kept him out of the end zone. 

Marlon Humphrey made his presence known in the secondary and the young cornerback made two of the biggest defensive plays in the game. He intercepted a turnover-prone Jameis Winston early in the fourth quarter and swatted away an intended pass for Chris Godwin on a 4th-and-4 just a few minutes later.

Justin Tucker’s 35-yard field goal extended the lead to 20-12 and the rushing attack slowly tired down the Bucs’ front-seven, picking up first down after first down.

Baltimore dominated time of possession yet again with 37:10 to the Bucs’ 22:50.

The Ravens improve to 8-6 and a win keeps them in contention for a Wild Card spot and the AFC North title, pending a Steelers-Patriots matchup.

Next week is a Saturday night matchup in Los Angeles against the Chargers, who come off an impressive 29-28 Thursday night win over the Kansas City Chiefs.