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Ravens secure AFC playoff spot with 4th consecutive victory, defeating error-prone Jaguars 23-7

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Lamar Jackson threw a touchdown pass and made the play of night when he avoided a sack and threw to Isaiah Likely near the goal line, and the Baltimore Ravens clinched a postseason berth with a 23-7 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday night.

Gus Edwards ran for a touchdown for the Ravens (11-3), who won their fourth in a row and moved a step closer to securing the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

The Jaguars (8-6) lost their third straight — all against AFC North teams — and fell into a tie with Houston and Indianapolis atop the AFC South. Self-inflicted mistakes were a common thread in Jacksonville’s skid.

Trevor Lawrence fumbled twice in the latest letdown, including one in the fourth quarter that essentially sealed Baltimore’s eighth victory in its last nine games.

This one may have been costly for the Ravens.

Promising rookie running back Keaton Mitchell injured his left knee early in the fourth quarter and was quickly ruled out. Replays showed his knee bend awkwardly during a run. He flashed a thumbs-up sign as he left the sideline on a cart.

The Ravens also lost starting left tackle Ronnie Staley (concussion) and free safety Marcus Williams (groin).

Jackson, Edwards, Likely and an elite defense did enough to overcome to the injuries.

Jackson threw for 171 yards — 70 of those to Likely — and ran for 97 more. Edwards added 58 on the ground, and Mitchell had 73 before his injury.

Lawrence threw for 264 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown to Jamal Agnew that gave the Jaguars life after a scoreless first half. But the Ravens answered with an unlikely play.

Jackson avoided Dawuane Smoot’s sack, rolled right and threw a pass up for grabs near the goal line. Likely outmaneuvered cornerback Darious Williams and safety Andrew Wingard for the reception. Edwards scored two plays later.

The Jaguars had four scoring chances in the first half but failed to cash in on any of them. They managed 181 yards, which was the most by a team in an opening half this season that did not score.

Brandon McManus missed two field goals from beyond 50 yards, and Lawrence inexplicably fumbled at the Baltimore 18-yard line. Lawrence simply lost the ball while scrambling on a third-and-17 play. He wasn’t going to pick up the first down, but Jacksonville surely was in makeable range for McManus.

Lawrence’s second mistake was even more of a head-scratcher. After connecting with Zay Jones for 36 yards and putting the Jaguars at the 5 with 15 seconds remaining in the half, Lawrence probably should have spiked the ball and stopped the clock. Instead, he threw a short out to rookie Parker Washington, who couldn’t get out of bounds and helplessly watched the clock run out.

Add it all up, and the Jaguars could have been up 16-10 at intermission. Instead, they trailed 10-0.

QUESTIONABLE NO-CALL

McManus’ first of two errant field goals was a 50-yarder that clanged off the right upright in the first quarter. He probably should have gotten a do-over.

Officials failed to throw a flag on Mitchell after he ran into McManus while he was finishing his follow-through. Holder Logan Cooke vehemently argued with officials, who later came to the sideline to explain themselves to Cooke and coach Doug Pederson. Retired NFL referee and current NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay said the Ravens should have been penalized 5 yards on the fourth-and-7 play.

SACK STREAK

Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike tied an NFL record by recording at least a half-sack in 11 consecutive games. Madubuike sacked Lawrence in the fourth to tie the record held by Jared Allen, Chris Jones, Trey Hendrickson and Shaun Ellis.

KEY INJURIES

Jaguars WR Zay Jones, who recently returned from a knee injury, strained a hamstring in the fourth. Ravens S Kyle Hamilton played through a knee injury that had him listed as questionable. He finished with seven tackles.

UP NEXT

Baltimore: Plays at San Francisco on Christmas, another prime-time matchup between division leaders on the opposite coast.

Jacksonville: Plays at Tampa Bay on Dec. 24, also a game featuring division leaders.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

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