With the Ravens down one and faced with a 4th and 5 and second-string quarterback Trace McSorley in agony on the turf at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson emerged from the tunnel.
The game was on the line and the Ravens needed five yards to keep the game going. They got 44 and a touchdown from Marquise Brown and a two-point conversion to take a seven-point lead.
The Browns answered in less than a minute to tie the game once again. Then, after the Ravens got the ball back once last time and marched down the field, Justin Tucker booted home a game-winning field goal. There was a safety on the final play after the ensuing kickoff to end the craziest game of the year for the Ravens and perhaps the entire NFL in 2020 -- a 47-42 win for Baltimore at the gun.
Here are a few instant takeaways from a game that’s hard to put into words:
Playoff races impacted
The Ravens knew they may have to win their final five games to make the playoffs after their loss to the Steelers and the Browns presented the toughest of those matchups.
Through 40% of the final stretch, Baltimore is a perfect two-for-two.
With their win in Cleveland, the Ravens may have ended the Browns’ AFC North title hopes and given themselves a near cakewalk to the AFC playoffs. And Jackson’s heroics may have saved the season.
Lamar cramps up late, returns to play hero
The Ravens led 34-20 and looked to be in great shape as the fourth quarter began. But in a matter of moments, the Browns scored a touchdown and Jackson was announced as questionable to return with cramps.
Trace McSorley took the lead at quarterback in place of Jackson, with Robert Griffin III on injured reserve. The Browns scored 15 straight points to take a 35-34 lead after a quick three-and-out from McSorley.
With the Ravens driving, McSorley’s left leg got caught in the turf and Jackson hopped right back into the lineup and fired a 44-yard strike to give the Ravens a lead once again.
Then, Jackson marched the Ravens into Browns territory to set up a game-winning kick from Tucker after the Browns tied the game once again.
Lamar slips and slides to a massive day on the ground
Jackson couldn’t find his footing in the first half. That should be interpreted literally.
The Browns’ defensive front got after Jackson early and often in the first two quarters. And whenever he tried to escape, he slipped on the Cleveland turf. But at halftime, he changed to a different pair of cleats and it seemed to work.
Even with the field acting as a Slip-N-Slide for Jackson most of the night, he ran for the second-most yards on the ground (124) in his entire career. The only time he had more was against Cincinnati on Oct. 13, 2019 (152) and the playoff game against Tennessee (143).