Most NFL teams would fear putting their season in the hands of two rookies, but quarterback Lamar Jackson and undrafted free agent Gus Edwards have taken the Baltimore Ravens' confidence to a new level.
You can feel the effects on both sides of the ball as the offense and defense have been working cohesively since their Week 10 bye. Jackson and the offense have dominated time of possession over those four weeks, which in hand allows the defense to have fresh legs each time they take the field as they remain the No.1 total defense in the league.
With two games to go and the postseason in sight, the respect among teammates is apparent.
"We appreciate it so much, the way our offense is playing," linebacker C.J. Mosley said following the team's 20-12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "It's keeping their offense off the field. It allows us to take care of our business, get us rest when we need it, and that is huge."
Heading into the fourth quarter of Sunday's win, Jackson had already hit 100 yards rushing on 13 carries and kept his offense on the field for 37:10 compared to the Buccaneers' 22:50. Plus with the help of Edwards' 104 rushing yards on 19 attempts, the Ravens have rushed for at least 190 yards in five-consecutive games. The last team to do this was the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers.
Then there is the defense. In eight of their 14 games in 2018, the Ravens have held their opponent to under 300 yards, and on Sunday held the Bucs to a season low 241 total yards and 156 net passing yards. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey had his first interception of the year and a career-high four passes defended while dealing with a groin injury in a standout performance.
"We're playing great team football right now to a T," safety Eric Weddle added. "We're playing well off each other— running the ball, controlling the clock, third-down conversions. We just know, as a defense, we just need to continue playing at a high level to give our offense more opportunities. Who knows what's going to happen."
Total team effort has put the Ravens in control of the sixth and final AFC playoff spot and half a game back of the Steelers for the AFC North. As they head to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers in Week 16 and then back to Baltimore to face the dynamic Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns, it appears the offense and defense have together found what works for them in a style of play that pundits deemed unattainable just weeks ago.
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