BALTIMORE (AP) — 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.
But the Ravens rallied.
Also on Sunday, Robert Griffin III made his debut with Baltimore after being on the inactive list for the first nine weeks. Griffin lined up as a receiver in the second quarter but did not touch the ball.
READY AND RESTED
The Ravens improved to 9-2 after a bye under Harbaugh, and they’re 14-3 since 2002 following an extra week off.
Bengals: WR A.J. Green (toe) was inactive after dressing for warmups.
Ravens: OT James Hurst (back) was inactive for a fourth straight week. … OT Ronnie Stanley twice limped off the field. He’s had ankle issues lately.
Bengals: A matchup next Sunday against visiting Cleveland should be particularly meaningful for former Browns coach Hue Jackson, hired as an assistant by Cincinnati on Tuesday.
Ravens: A three-game homestand concludes for Baltimore against the struggling Oakland Raiders.