JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Quarterback Lamar Jackson accounted for 268 yards of total offense and the Ravens took advantage of a wasteful Jacksonville Jaguars offense as they pulled away late for a 23-7 win Sunday night at EverBank Stadium.

They became the first team in the AFC to clinch a spot in the playoffs.

Tight end Isaiah Likely continued his hot streak, finishing with five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown, and the running game rolled against an elite run defense (251 yards), but injuries marred the Ravens’ fourth straight win. Safety Marcus Williams (groin) and running back Keaton Mitchell (knee) left the game with injuries and did not return. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley also did not return after being evaluated for a concussion in the second half.

The Ravens maintained their hold on the AFC’s top seed and their two-game lead in the AFC North over the Cleveland Browns. According to The New York Times’ playoff picture, the Ravens have a 71% chance of earning home-field advantage.

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Now comes maybe the biggest game of the NFL’s regular season: a Christmas Day prime-time matchup with the NFC-leading San Francisco 49ers, a potential Super Bowl preview. Leading the way will be Jackson, who went 14-for-24 for 171 yards and an interception and added 12 carries for 97 yards, and the Ravens’ elite defense, which held AFC South-leading Jacksonville (8-6) to 333 yards and forced two turnovers.

Running back Gus Edwards’ 1-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter gave the Ravens a commanding 17-7 lead, restoring the double-digit advantage they’d lost after Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (25-for-43 for 264 yards and a touchdown) found wide receiver Jamal Agnew for a 65-yard score on an apparent coverage bust.

A year ago, Edwards had given the Ravens a nine-point lead over the Jaguars early in the fourth quarter, only for Jacksonville to rally for a 28-27 last-minute win. This time, the Ravens held strong.

The Ravens entered halftime leading 10-0, an advantage that felt tenuous. Jacksonville hadn’t lacked for opportunities. Kicker Brandon McManus doinked a 50-yard field goal attempt off the right upright and missed badly from 55 yards. Jacksonville’s first red-zone possession ended after Lawrence lost a ball he fumbled inexplicably on a third-down scramble.

After Jackson found Likely for a 16-yard touchdown with 1:12 remaining to extend the Ravens’ lead to 10-0, Jacksonville answered quickly. Wide receiver Zay Jones beat cornerback Brandon Stephens downfield for a 36-yard completion. But the last-minute push ended at the Ravens’ 5 after Jaguars wide receiver Parker Washington was tackled inbounds on a meaningless short catch, bleeding the remaining seconds off the clock before Lawrence could get another snap off.

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Running wild

Who saw the Ravens running wild against an elite Jaguars run defense? Not me. Jacksonville had been most vulnerable against the threat of the run, not an actual ground game. But, after an unremarkable first half, the Ravens were close to unstoppable as they put the game away.

The injury to running back Keaton Mitchell, if it’s as serious as it looked, could be another devastating blow to a corps that already lost J.K. Dobbins for the year. But, if the Ravens move bodies off the line of scrimmage as well as they did Sunday, and if Jackson carries out the read-option game as expertly as he did in the second half, the offense becomes a lot more sustainable.

— Jonas Shaffer, Ravens reporter

Ravens tight end Charlie Kolar is tackled short of the goal line by Andrew Wingard of the Jaguars during the second quarter. (Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

No room to run

Trevor Lawrence plays the exact type of ball that can expose the Ravens defense. With his quick releases, the pass rush had little time to get to him and the coverage couldn’t shift as it normally does. The result? Just one sack for a team that was averaging 3.76 per game, and 258 passing yards for the Jaguars.

But, as leaky as the run defense felt at first, it tightened and held the Jaguars to a measly 37 rushing yards until the final minutes. Lawrence broke off a few explosive runs to push the number to 75 rushing yards, but the quarterback was the only Jaguar who rushed for more than 7 yards. By making them one-dimensional, the Ravens kept the Jaguars’ third-down efficiency at 23% and allowed just 16 first downs. There are definitely areas that need strengthening before they head to play yet another high-powered offense, but the defense continued to find a way.

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— Giana Han, Ravens reporter

A playoff clinching-win, but what did it cost?

Every probability model in the world will tell you that Sunday night’s win, besides ensuring a playoff berth, improved Baltimore’s chances to clinch the AFC’s No. 1 seed and thus improved its chances of making the Super Bowl. But, with injuries to Keaton Mitchell, Marcus Williams and Ronnie Stanley, did it?

The Ravens looked shaky for much of the first half before a power run game and turnovers helped them roll. But they lost their best home run hitter on the ground, and one of their best cover defensive backs exited early. An offensive line that looked under siege against the Jaguars’ pass rush lost Stanley to a possible concussion, and Stanley has struggled with his health all season. It was a competent win, but its long-term effects could be troubling.

— Kyle Goon, columnist

So what if they don’t look perfect?

There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the Ravens’ uneven performance against the Jaguars – how the injuries continued to mount, how the offense left points on the board, how the pass rush took too long to get going. It was not a statement win, nor was it a particularly pretty one.

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But, as the Ravens glower down at the rest of the AFC from atop their perch, it’s hard not to be impressed with the team’s ability to pull out win after win. Every team is racking up injuries. Every team has holes to fix. But, as their 11-3 record and four-game win streak have proven, the Ravens appear to be the team best equipped to weather each storm. The Ravens just win and, for now, that’s enough.

— Paul Mancano, audience engagement editor

Uncomfortable, but it worked

This is the real magic of Lamar Jackson. He patches holes when injuries weaken his team. He thwarts well-designed plans from defensive coordinators. He lifts up whatever part of the offense happens to be sagging. The way this plays out can be confounding, even for the most sophisticated of fans. It so often feels as though the Ravens’ offense is not working, and yet it almost always is — the key being that it never relies on one way to move the ball and can quickly swerve as needed. There’s never that satisfying feeling that they’re simply going to do one thing and the other team will be helpless to stop it; they make opponents helpless by morphing.

(Jackson, it should be noted, is good enough that you can never get away with being half as sloppy as the Jaguars were Sunday evening.)

Injuries to Ronnie Stanley, Keaton Mitchell and Marcus Williams are reason for concern heading into what’s likely to become the most anticipated game of the NFL season next week against the Niners, but … the Ravens have dealt with many of those this year.

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We’ll talk a lot this week about the Christmas game in San Francisco, and with good reason. There’s so much to consider (like: getting the ball to Zay and Odell!) But also, wow. What more could you ask for?

— Chris Korman, editor

Jonas Shaffer is a Ravens beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun. Shaffer graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Silver Spring.

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