Lamar Jackson threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter and the Baltimore Ravens beat Cincinnati 34-20 on Thursday night after the Bengals lost their star quarterback Joe Burrow to a wrist injury.
The AFC North-leading Ravens (8-3) completed a head-to-head sweep of Cincinnati (5-5) and moved 2.5 games ahead of the Bengals, who are bottom of the division. And that’s far from Cincinnati’s only problem. Burrow left in the second quarter after throwing a touchdown pass and wasn’t able to return.
The Bengals were up 10-7 after that four-yard scoring toss from Burrow to Joe Mixon, but the Ravens answered when Jackson’s pass over the middle bounced off linebacker Germaine Pratt and straight to receiver Nelson Agholor, who caught the ball in stride and punctuated the 37-yard touchdown with a flip into the end zone.
Jackson threw a 10-yard TD pass to Rashod Bateman with 23 seconds left in the half to put Baltimore up 21-10.
Jake Browning, a 27-year-old backup who had played in only one NFL game, came in for Burrow and was able to guide the Bengals to a field goal to start the second half. But that was all he could manage until he threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Ja’Marr Chase with 1:08 remaining in the game.
Jackson threw for 264 yards despite losing one of his top targets, tight end Mark Andrews, to an ankle injury on the first drive of the game.
Gus Edwards bookended Baltimore’s day offensively with three-yard touchdown runs – the first made it 7-0 and the latter 34-13.
Cincinnati have won the division the past two years, when late-season injuries kept Jackson off the field for the Ravens. This year Jackson has been able to stay healthy – he went into the medical tent after appearing to hurt a foot or ankle in the first quarter Thursday but stayed in the game – and Baltimore’s AFC North rivals are the ones dealing with health issues at quarterback.
Cleveland, who won at Baltimore last weekend to pull within a half-game of first place, lost Deshaun Watson for the season with a fractured shoulder. Now Burrow is dealing with another injury after he faced calf trouble earlier this season.
The Ravens had five sacks, increasing their league-leading total to 44.