Lamar Jackson Remains Undefeated as Starter as Ravens Beat Falcons 26-16

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2018

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs into the end zone for a touchdown against Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (97) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)
Danny Karnik/Associated Press

Lamar Jackson nearly got knocked out of his third start. He got back up and stayed undefeated as an NFL starter.   

Jackson got the job done again with his arm and feet, helping lead the Baltimore Ravens to a 26-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

The rookie briefly left the game in the third quarter and was evaluated for a concussion. He returned after passing protocol and finished the game completing 12 of 21 passes for his 125 yards while adding 75 and a touchdown on the ground.

Gus Edwards rushed for 82 yards, and the Ravens controlled the clock for 39-plus minutes thanks to a stellar defensive effort. 

The Falcons managed just 131 total yards. Matt Ryan was sacked three times and threw for a season-low 131 yards. 


Defense Makes Ravens Most Dangerous AFC Wild Card Contender

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By now, it's pretty clear the Ravens should stick with Jackson as their starting quarterback. They've won three straight games, found ways to control the clock and foisted themselves into the driver's seat for the final wild-card spot.

Jackson's presence has made Baltimore's best trait, its defense, an even more formidable unit. Ravens opponents have averaged just 18 points over the three-game winning streak, and Sunday's domination of Atlanta was particularly eye-opening.

Ryan entered the weekend on pace to potentially break the single-season NFL passing record. His 5,357-yard pace put him just 120 off Peyton Manning's record.

Ryan left Week 13 with almost no chance of becoming the single-season yardage leader. The Ravens brought him down three times for sacks, had seven quarterback hits and put him in a constant state of pressure that resulted in quick dump offs. No Falcons pass went for longer than 17 yards.

Julio Jones, who entered with six straight 100-yard performances, had a season-worst two catches for 18 yards. It was his worst receiving performance since a one-catch, 16-yard outing against the New Orleans Saints in September 2016. 

The Ravens have not allowed a 100-yard receiver all season. 

Provided Jackson continues avoiding turnovers, the Ravens have a real shot of going on the road and pulling off an upset in a month. 


Falcons Coach Dan Quinn Should Be on Hot Seat

The Falcons have dropped four straight games, and it's clear something is amiss. They haven't hit the 20-point mark in a month and have one of the worst running games in the sport. Tevin Coleman has 14 yards on as many carries in the last two weeks.

Football Outsiders also ranked the Falcons as the worst defense in football coming into this week. The team put no pressure on Jackson whatsoever and allowed the Ravens to churn the clock.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn has a little bit of leverage to withstand a bad seasongetting the Falcons to the Super Bowl will have that effect. But with the season spiraling out of control fast, he's going to have to take a look at his coaching staff.

Defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel is probably coaching on borrowed time. The defense has limited talent but has also made no improvement as the season has progressed. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has taken criticism since he arrived in Atlanta and could be replaced as well.

That said, if both sides of the ball are underperforming, the onus probably needs to fall on the head coach. The Falcons have four more games to figure this whole thing out, but a change might be necessary if things keep spiraling. 

What's Next? 

The Ravens travel to Kansas City to play the Chiefs next Sunday. The Falcons travel to Green Bay to see the Packers next week.

Where to Watch: NFL games and related coverage are available through fuboTV.