What Lamar Jackson Injury, Ravens Loss Mean For Patriots, Playoff Race

Jackson left Sunday's Ravens loss with an ankle injury

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One of the NFL’s most electric playmakers was carted to the locker room Sunday afternoon.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson suffered an ankle injury during the first half of his team’s Week 14 matchup with the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The severity of Jackson’s injury has not been reported, but he exited the game and did not return. The Ravens went on to lose 24-22.

“Lamar has an ankle sprain,” head coach John Harbaugh told reporters postgame. “We’ll look at it more (Monday) and see where we’re at.”

The injury and the loss had major ramifications for the AFC playoff race, as Baltimore entered Sunday ranked second in the conference behind the 9-4 New England Patriots. The Ravens now sit at 8-5 with four weeks remaining and lead the Browns by just one game in the AFC North standings.

Baltimore already was facing arguably the most difficult remaining schedule of any AFC contender (Green Bay at home, Cincinnati away, Los Angeles Rams at home, Pittsburgh at home). If Jackson misses time, it would be forced to navigate that perilous stretch with backup Tyler Huntley behind center.

Huntley, a 2020 undrafted free agent out of Utah, has just one career start, beating the Chicago Bears earlier this season while Jackson was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He nearly led an unlikely comeback Sunday with two touchdown drives in the final nine minutes, but Baltimore’s final possession stalled near midfield. Huntley finished 27-of-38 for 270 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.

Two other AFC title hopefuls took care of business Sunday, with the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs routing the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders, respectively, to improve to 9-4 on the season. The 7-5 Buffalo Bills are visiting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the late-afternoon time slot.

The Patriots are on their bye this week. They currently hold tiebreakers over the Ravens, Titans, Chiefs and Bills, guaranteeing they’ll remain in first place regardless of this weekend’s results.

New England will begin its final push for the No. 1 seed (and the accompanying first-round playoff bye) when it visits a dangerous Indianapolis Colts team next Saturday night, followed by matchups with the Bills (home), Jacksonville Jaguars (home) and Miami Dolphins (away) to close out the regular season.

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