Lamar Jackson, Ravens Running Backs Make Statement in Win over Cowboys

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 9, 2020

Lamar Jackson, Ravens Running Backs Make Statement in Win over Cowboys

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens used Tuesday night's win over the Dallas Cowboys as a statement to the rest of the league. 

    Jackson and his trio of running backs torched the Dallas defense all night long, and it gave us a reminder of what the Ravens offense can look like at full strength.

    Additionally, Jackson hooked up with Marquise Brown on a touchdown pass for the second straight week. If Jackson refines the connection with his wide receivers, the Ravens could be even more dangerous on offense. 

    Baltimore's defense still needs to cut down on its yardage concessions, but it did enough on Tuesday to keep the Cowboys out of the end zone. 

    By limiting Dallas' touchdown potential, the Ravens forced field-goal opportunities that the visitors could not convert on. 

    Baltimore needs to make a few more improvements to surge out of the No. 9 seed in the AFC standings and into a wild-card position, but Tuesday's performance should help it build confidence ahead of the Week 14 showdown with the Cleveland Browns

Rushing Attack Tears Apart Cowboys

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    The Ravens recorded their season high in rushing yards on Tuesday night.

    Jackson, Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram combined to produce 294 yards on the ground, which was 31 yards better than the team's previous best ground outing against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 8. 

    Jackson set the tone with a 37-yard rushing touchdown that put Baltimore ahead for the first time at the end of the first quarter. 

    By the time Dobbins found the end zone with two minutes and eight seconds left in the game, the Ravens had torn apart every part of the Dallas defense. 

    Edwards ran for 101 yards on seven carries, Dobbins turned 11 touches into 71 yards and Ingram chipped in 28 yards off six carries. Jackson had the most carries with 13. The quarterback earned 94 rushing yards.

    The addition of Dobbins to the three-pronged rushing attack Baltimore had a year ago makes it even more dangerous when it gets rolling on the ground. 

    With three running backs in the fold, the Ravens can spell them to stay fresh to help Jackson in the backfield on every offensive play.

    The Ravens do not have to put up season bests in every game moving forward, but if they remain effective on the ground, they could be in position to surge into a wild-card spot. 

Marquise Brown Continues to Get More Involved in Passing Game

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    Baltimore still has to do more in the passing game, but the one positive from the last two weeks is the added production from Marquise Brown.

    The second-year player caught a touchdown for the second consecutive week. He has nine receptions on 16 targets in the last two games. 

    Prior to Week 12, Brown pulled in six receptions over a four-game stretch in which the Ravens went 1-3. 

    If Jackson gets Brown more involved in the next four weeks, the Ravens could create a few big plays through the air, which would hopefully pull a defender or two away from respecting the run. 

    The inclusion of Brown in the last two games has been important since Mark Andrews and Willie Snead are on the COVID-19/reserve list. 

    If the Ravens are back at full strength at any point in December, they will have a confident Brown and two other reliable options for Jackson to trust. 

    A balanced offensive approach could make all the difference for the Ravens as they chase down a wild-card spot with a favorable schedule. 

    After facing Cleveland on Sunday, the Ravens will face the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals. They should be expected to go 3-1, or even 4-0, during that stretch. 

Defense Kept Ezekiell Elliott at Bay

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Baltimore's overall defensive numbers still need some improvement, but it deserves credit for not letting Ezekiel Elliott make a game-changing play and keeping Dallas out of the end zone for most of the game. 

    Elliott managed 77 yards on 18 carries, but his longest run of the night was 14 yards. 

    The containment of Elliott's progress helped the Baltimore defense keep Dallas' offense away from the goal line. 

    Dallas was forced to attempt four field goals, one of which was made by Greg Zuerlein. Even if the Cowboys kicker made all of those kicks, the Ravens would have had a double-digit lead with the way they ran the ball. 

    The limitation of Elliott's play-making ability was not only key on Tuesday, but it set the precedent for how the rushing defense should perform moving forward. 

    Baltimore needs to contain Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt on Sunday to have any chance of beating the Browns. It conceded 138 rushing yards in Week 1, but held the Browns to six points. 

    If the Ravens cut that total by 20-30 yards to remain around the 111 yards allowed to Elliott, they should be in position to earn a vital Week 14 victory.

    The same thinking applies to the two games after the Browns since James Robinson and Wayne Gallman have turned in decent seasons for the Jaguars and Giants, respectively. 

    If the Ravens continue to limit the big-play potential of opposing running backs, their defense may have the formula to pull off a first-round upset.

         

    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.

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