BALTIMORE — “Locked in.”
That was the expression Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson used all week heading into the critical game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
Jackson threw for 321 yards with five touchdowns for a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating and the Ravens rolled to a 56-19 victory.
With the win, Baltimore clinched the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs for the second time since 2019. It was also the Ravens first AFC North crown since 2019.
“Even with the adversity early in the game, our fans didn’t blink,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “They did a great job. I’m proud of them. I’m proud of the team. I don’t if I’ve seen a more impressive performance in a game. I’m not sure I’ve seen a more impressive performance in a season to date. Obviously, we have a lot more to do. We have a lot of work to do in front of us. It’s a mature football team, and they understand that. They understand week to week that it’s a one-week challenge, and I just think the way they’ve approached every single game this year from the beginning on through – adversity, travel [and] quality of opponents we’ve had to play.
“To step up and play the way they have and to put an exclamation point on it – a triple exclamation point on it – with a performance like this, pretty much a well-rounded, perfect performance like that after the opening bell. Even that, to bounce back from the beginning of the game the way they did, it says about who they are. I just have so much respect for them.”
The sellout crowd chanted “MVP, MVP” to Jackson throughout the game.
“[I was thinking,] ‘We need to finish this game.’ I’m not really paying attention to the chants,” Jackson said. “Last year, the score was looking like that at halftime and stuff like that and [in the] third quarter. Then, those guys started making plays, and we didn’t do anything, but the only thing on my mind was to finish the game, and today, we did.”
The 56 points are the most the Ravens have scored at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens learned their lesson from last year’s late-game collapse against the Dolphins when they gave up 28 points in the fourth quarter and lost, 42-38.
There was no stunning comeback this time.
Jackson threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Zay Flowers that extended the Ravens’ lead to 21-13 with 2:58 remaining in the half. Flowers finished with three receptions for 106 yards. He also has 842 receiving yards, surpassing Torrey Smith’s record of 841 receiving yards from the 2011 season.
On the next drive, Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith made a one-handed interception on Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Baltimore capitalized on the turnover when Jackson threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Likely for a 28-13 lead at the half.
Baltimore kept the pressure on when Justice Hill returned the second-half kickoff 78 yards inside the Dolphins’ red zone. Jackson then threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Likely for a 35-13 lead.
“It’s really just about preparation and focus,” Likely said. “We just need to go 1-0 every week and do the same exact thing every practice and [know] that the only team that can beat us is us. Having us not beat ourselves is the key.”
The crowd was still antsy because the Ravens led, 35-14, at the end of the third quarter in last year’s game before Miami rallied.
The Dolphins cut the Ravens’ lead to 35-19 on a 1-yard pass from Tagovailoa to rookie running back De’Von Achane.
But Baltimore continued to distance itself on the next drive when a 41-yard run by Hill put the ball inside the 5. The Ravens extended the lead on a 4-yard pass from Jackson to fullback Pat Ricard.
“It’s very rewarding to have the season we’re having, but it’s still the regular season and it doesn’t mean anything quite yet,” Ricard said. “We’re in a really good spot. We just have to stay healthy, keep learning, and keep getting better.”
Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike recorded his 13th sack of the season. Safety Geno Stone earned his seventh interception in the third quarter.
Baltimore third-string running back Melvin Gordon scored from the 7, and second-year tight end Charlie Kolar caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Huntley for a 56-19 lead. It was Kolar’s first career touchdown.
Tagovailoa was 22 of 38 for 237 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was also sacked three times.
Both teams were missing key playmakers.
Safety Kyle Hamilton (knee), guard Kevin Zeitler (knee, quad), and cornerback Brandon Stephens (ankle) were ruled out for the Ravens. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey injured his calf in the first quarter and did not return.
Miami was missing running back Raheem Mostert, who was inactive because of knee and ankle injuries. Mostert entered the week leading the NFL with 18 rushing touchdowns and is fourth in the league with a career-high 1,012 rushing yards. He is tied with Christian McCaffrey for first in the NFL with 21 total touchdowns.
Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (1,014 yards receiving) also missed the game with an ankle injury.
However, fellow wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who ranks first in the NFL with 1,641 yards receiving. was available and finished with 76 yards on six receptions. Hill became the first NFL player with multiple 1,700-yard seasons.
Achane responded with 107 yards on 14 carries. He also caught four passes for 30 yards and a touchdown.
The Dolphins needed just four minutes to score on their opening possession. Tagovailoa threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Cedric Wilson Jr. for the lead.
The Ravens answered with an impressive opening drive of their own and tied the game, 7-7, on a 20-yard pass from Jackson to Hill, who also converted a third-and-16.
“All we wanted to do was come into the NFL and do the same thing here,” Hill said. “It’s an opportunity to show what we can do and how we can help the team.”
Jackson threw a 32-yard pass to Odell Beckham Jr., who made an acrobatic catch on the 2-yard line. That set up a touchdown run by Gus Edwards and the Ravens led, 14-10, with 6:56 left in the half.
The Dolphins converted a fourth-and-5 on a 25-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Hill. However, the Ravens limited Miami to a 38-yard field by Jason Sanders.
There wasn’t any stunning comeback for the Dolphins as the Ravens scored 21 straight points to pull away.
“This is the best team I’ve ever been on in my entire life, I want to say,” Beckham said. “[It’s] definitely one of them. I had a crazy freshman [year] team in college, but this is the best team I’ve been on in the NFL ever in my entire life.”