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Ravens turnovers could turn game in Chiefs' favor Sunday

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Ravens turnovers could turn game in Chiefs' favor Sunday

The Ravens are one of the worst NFL teams at causing turnovers. The Chiefs are one of the best.

That does not bode well for the Ravens (4-9) on Sunday, when they host the Chiefs (8-5) at M&T Bank Stadium. With 24 takeaways and just 12 turnovers, the Chiefs’ +12 ratio is second in the NFL, trailing only the undefeated Panthers (+15). Meanwhile, the Ravens have a -12 turnover ratio, worse than everyone in the NFL except the Cowboys, who are -15 heading into Saturday night’s game against the Jets.

The Ravens have only intercepted four passes, putting them on pace to set a franchise low for a season.  They have only recovered seven fumbles. As the Ravens look ahead to next season, building a defense that is faster and more opportunistic should be a top priority.

“Turnovers,” Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith said recently. “Giving them away and not taking them away. That has been the story that has not helped us and (has) helped other teams.

“Interceptions and fumbles and forced fumbles, turnovers in general, being a stingy defense, taking the ball away and giving our offense more opportunities, cutting other offenses’ opportunities short. That would have went a long way this season for us.”

As of Saturday morning, Ravens coach John Harbaugh had not announced whether Jimmy Clausen or Matt Schaub would start at quarterback. But here’s something to keep in mind, considering Schaub’s issue with throwing pick-sixes. The Chiefs lead the AFC with 18 interceptions. If Schaub starts, and adds to his interception total, the Ravens can’t say they didn’t see it coming.

[RELATED: Mallett's signing triggers other roster moves]

 

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What a rush: Lamar Jackson ran for 117 yards in win

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What a rush: Lamar Jackson ran for 117 yards in win

The opening drive set the tone.

Stepping on the field for the first time as a starting quarterback in the NFL, Lamar Jackson led the Ravens on an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown to get the team out to an early 7-0 lead over the Bengals.

In that drive, the rookie from Louisville did not attempt one pass. His legs did the work as he rushed for 46 yard on five carries. 

That was the type of day it was for Jackson. While his passing numbers (13-19, 150 yards, 1 INT) were pedestrian, the 117 yards rushing are what left the Ravens fans and the Bengals defense with their heads on a swivel.

Showing the lighting quickness that help make a name for himself in college and made him such an intriguing prospect coming into this year’s draft, Jackson was the team’s leading rusher in the much-needed, come-from-behind 24-21 win over the Bengals.

It was clear head coach John Harbaugh and his staff came into the game with a run-first game plan. Jackson’s 117 yards, along with Gus Edwards’ 115 yards led the way for Baltimore’s 265 yards rushing on the day. 

Jackson got the start in place of Joe Flacco who was sidelined due to a hip injury.

While Jackson has seen time on the field in various offensive packages this season, his first start and win as an NFL quarterback came at a crucial time for the Ravens as the playoff race is heating up. 

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Lamar Jackson carries 27 times, lifts Ravens past Bengals 24-21

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Lamar Jackson carries 27 times, lifts Ravens past Bengals 24-21

BALTIMORE -- Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson juked and sprinted for 117 yards in his first NFL start, Gus Edwards ran for 115 and the Baltimore Ravens ground out a 24-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday to end a three-game losing streak.

Flashing the moves that enabled him to win the 2016 Heisman Trophy at Louisville, Jackson zipped in and out of the pocket for 27 carries. Though the Ravens (5-5) relied heavily on the run, Jackson also completed 13 of 19 passes for 150 yards with an interception.

"We came out with a win, so it was pretty good, I guess," Jackson said. "I had butterflies before the first tackle, but after the first tackle it was game on."

Ravens starting quarterback Joe Flacco did not practice all week and was inactive with a right hip injury. That created an opening for Jackson, the 32nd overall pick in the NFL draft.

"I thought he played spectacular," coach John Harbaugh said. "I thought he played winning football."

Before Sunday, the former Louisville star occasionally took snaps in running situations and replaced Flacco in the fourth quarter of two blowouts. Having to carry the load by himself, Jackson responded with a solid performance in a game the Ravens had to win.

"We weren't able to get him stopped enough," said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who took the reins of the defense after firing coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday.

Down 21-13 in the second half, Baltimore rallied to hand the sinking Bengals (5-5) their fourth loss in five games.

Edwards, an undrafted rookie free agent, scored on an 11-yard run and barreled in for the conversion late in the third quarter. Jackson then directed a 55-yard drive that ended with a field goal by Justin Tucker with 8:12 remaining.

"My teammates had my backs, and I had theirs," Jackson said.

Cincinnati's Randy Bullock missed a potential tying 52-yard field goal with 3:59 left, and Andy Dalton's fourth-down pass from the Baltimore 37 with 1:42 to go was knocked away by Marlon Humphrey.

This was a tough defeat for the Bengals, who were soaring at 4-1 in October but now stand at .500 for the first time.

"I thought they played hard. I though they played better and did a good job on assignments," Lewis said.

After Cincinnati allowed 500 yards in three straight games, an NFL record in the Super Bowl era, Lewis took control of the unit. The Bengals were much better this time around, although success came at the expense of an inexperienced quarterback who had thrown 12 passes in the NFL before Sunday.

Jackson ran 10 times for 64 yards and five first downs, Alex Collins scored on a 7-yard run to cap the opening drive, and the Ravens took a 13-7 halftime lead when Tucker drilled a 56-yard field goal.

It all came apart for Baltimore in the third quarter. Jackson threw his first NFL interception, a pick by Shawn Williams, whose 22-yard return set up a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matt Lengel for a 14-13 lead.

On the next series, Jackson was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 from the Baltimore 45. Dalton turned the gamble into a touchdown, hitting John Ross on the right side of the end zone for a 22-yard score.