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Lamar Jackson-Led Ravens Capture Crucial 24-21 Win Over Bengals

November 18, 2018 - 4:38 pm
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By Joe Schiller 

There’s some charm back in the Charm City and it goes by the name of Lamar Jackson.

With speculation surrounding Joe Flacco’s hip injury, Jackson, the last of the five first-round rookie quarterbacks selected in the 2018 draft – made his NFL debut on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

In a must-win game, Jackson led the Ravens on five scoring drives, including what would be the game-winning drive with 8:15 left in the fourth quarter. Justin Tucker’s 24-yard field goal proved to be the difference as the Ravens escaped with a 24-21 win against their divisional rivals.

On their first drive of the game, the Ravens showed what could be a completely different offense under Jackson’s control. They marched 75 yards down the field on 11 plays, all runs, and took a 7-0 lead from Alex Collins’ 7-yard touchdown run.

The Ravens controlled the first half, limiting Joe Mixon’s presence on the ground and taking advantage of a receiving core that was missing their top target in A.J. Green. A pair of Justin Tucker field goals gave Baltimore a 13-7 lead as Jackson’s debut started off strong and turnover-free.

But on the Ravens’ first drive in the third quarter, Jackson made a poor decision on the end of a second down play and his pass was intercepted by Shawn Williams. The Bengals took advantage and scored 14 unanswered points to take a 21-13 lead midway through the third quarter.

Growing pains were to be expected with Jackson’s first start but the rookie collected himself and helped spark a comeback. Using his legs, along with the help of Gus Edwards, the two combined for 132 rushing yards. Edwards’ 11-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion to follow tied the game at 21-21 just over one minute before the end of the third quarter.

Jackson threw for 150 yards on 13-of-19 passing but did his damage with 117 rushing yards on 27 carries as read options and creative play calling kept the Bengals’ defense on their heels.

Following Randy Bullock’s 52-yard missed field goal, Andy Dalton and the Bengals were given one final drive with 2:45 in a story that’s come back to haunt the Ravens on previous occasions.

This time around, the defense stepped up.

Marlon Humphrey broke up a pass intended for Chris Core on 4th-and-3, giving Jackson his first career win.

A win for the Ravens and losses by the Bengals and Titans keeps the playoff hopes alive. And with a favorable schedule with a winnable matchup against the Oakland Raiders next week, Jackson sits in the driver’s seat of the Ravens’ playoff hopes.