BALTIMORE — Lamar Jackson ran around the Jets, through the Jets, threw in between and over Jets and strengthened his case for the NFL MVP award in a brilliant performance in prime time.
The Jets looked like extras in the Lamar Jackson Show. They were the Washington Generals to his Harlem Globetrotters, and the Jets fell to Jackson’s Ravens 42-21 on Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium.
Gang Green came into this game as heavy underdogs and they looked the part for most of the night. There was a brief glimmer of hope in the second quarter that the Jets could make this a game, but that disappeared with two missed opportunities at the end of the first half and two Sam Darnold turnovers.
For most of the night, the undermanned and overmatched Jets looked like the JV facing the varsity.
The Jets are now 5-9 with two games left in this miserable season. It is their fourth straight losing season and fifth in the last six years. The Ravens improved to 12-2, winners of their last 10 games, and they clinched the AFC North title with Thursday’s victory.
Jackson showed the Jets what they were in for on the Ravens’ second play from scrimmage. He raced around the left side with Jets linebacker Jordan Jenkins failing to set the edge. Jackson ran for 20 yards before being pushed out of bounds. That was the beginning of a long night for the Jets.
Jackson was 15 of 23 passing for 212 yards and five touchdown passes for a QB rating of 134.4. He also ran for 86 yards. Jackson broke Michael Vick’s record for rushing yards (1,039, set in 2006) in a single season by a quarterback in the game’s first quarter. Jackson exited the game to chants of “MVP” in the fourth.
Gregg Williams’ defense that had been No. 2 against the run in the NFL entering this game gave up 99 yards rushing in the first quarter. The Ravens finished with 218 rushing yards and 431 total yards.
Baltimore marched down the field on its first drive thanks to the legs of Jackson and Mark Ingram. The nine-play, 84-yard drive ended with a 6-yard touchdown run around the outside by Ingram.
The Jets offense moved the ball pretty well in the first half. After going three-and-out on its first drive, the unit put together drives of seven, eight and 13 plays. The problem was scoring points at the end of them. Sam Ficken had a 49-yard field goal blocked in the first quarter and Baltimore scored on five plays after getting the ball back. Ingram had 29-yard run and Jackson ran 25 yards to the Jets’ 5. He then found Miles Boykin for a 5-yard touchdown and a 13-0 lead.
The Jets reached the end zone at the start of the second quarter. Jamison Crowder caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Darnold after dropping an easy touchdown the previous play. That made it 13-7, but that would be as close as the Jets would get.
Jets running back Le’Veon Bell rushed for a season-high 87 yards on 21 carries after missing last week’s game with the flu. Darnold went 18-for-32 for 218 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Jackson threw his second touchdown of the night after Jets linebacker Neville Hewitt committed pass interference in the end zone to give the Ravens the ball at the 1. Jackson connected with Mark Andrews for the score.
Down 21-7, the Jets put together their best drive of the night, going 67 yards on 13 plays and chewing up seven minutes and 49 seconds in the process. They got to the Ravens 7 and faced a fourth-and-1. Jets coach Adam Gase decided to go for it, but made a curious play call. He tried to roll out Darnold and throw for a touchdown instead of just getting the yard. Darnold’s pass to Robby Anderson fell incomplete and the Jets squandered a scoring opportunity.
The Jets defense got a stop and gave the offense the ball back with 1:03 left in the half at the Ravens’ 41. Darnold nearly hit a long touchdown pass to Jeff Smith, but Smith appeared to slow down on his route and the ball was incomplete. Then, Darnold threw an interception to Ravens safety Chuck Clark, ending any hope of the Jets scoring before halftime.
The Ravens blew the game open in the third quarter. The Jets defense stopped the Ravens twice to start the half. Then, Darnold fumbled after getting sacked by Tyus Bowser, who beat tight end Trevon Wesco. The Ravens recovered and Jackson took two plays to connect with Marquise Brown for a 24-yard touchdown and a 28-7 lead.
Baltimore stretched it to 35-7 on Jackson’s fourth touchdown pass of the night, a 33-yard strike to Seth Roberts over Marcus Maye.
The lone bright spot in this one for the Jets was some good special teams play. Tarell Basham blocked a punt in the fourth quarter that was recovered by B.J. Bello for a touchdown. The Jets also had some long kickoff and punt returns.
Outside of that, there was not much to cheer about for the Jets.