Late-season scramble: Lamar Jackson, Ravens may need to run the table

BALTIMORE -- The lasting impression from the Baltimore Ravens' 20-12 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday is never count out Lamar Jackson.

Slipping out of collapsing pockets, Jackson ran for 95 yards and sparked a rushing attack that became the first in 42 years to gain at least 190 yards on the ground in five consecutive games.

Jackson's next feat with his legs: Attempting to run the table. Baltimore (8-6) currently holds the No. 6 seed in the AFC and remains a half-game back of Pittsburgh (8-5-1) for first place in the AFC North, but there is a narrowing margin of error.

The Ravens likely have to reach 10 wins to either win the division or secure a wild-card berth, given the remaining schedules of the Steelers and the two other teams with an 8-6 record in the AFC (the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans). Baltimore's final regular-season games are at the Los Angeles Chargers (11-3) and home against the Cleveland Browns (6-7-1).

There's plenty of pressure riding on a rookie first-round pick who has continually come up big at critical moments this season.

"He's got that cool demeanor that nothing rattles him," safety Eric Weddle said. "If he makes a mistake, it's whatever, I'll get back and I'll make up for it. It's very hard to have that characteristic. I think it's great not just for a football player, but a quarterback. The team is looking at you. If you're crazy, if you get rattled, the whole team will be. He's growing every week. He's getting better, he's doing things that he's working on each week. We're proud of him, man."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh named Jackson the starter only a few days ago after Joe Flacco had fully recovered from a hip injury. At a rain-soaked M&T Bank Stadium, Jackson justified the decision, improving to 4-1 as a starter and showing elusiveness from the Buccaneers' pass rush.

Jackson scrambled for a career-high 48 yards after only totaling 35 such yards all season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. His best came on the first drive of the second half, when he ducked away from an unblocked pass-rusher and then cut back to avoid two other defenders. The 22-yard burst converted a second-and-16 and extended a 10-play, 78-yard touchdown drive that has become commonplace with Jackson.

"He's a playmaker," safety Tony Jefferson said. "He can make something out of nothing. I think that's what's going to make him even greater as he progressively gets more snaps and more opportunities. I love Lamar. He just needs to keep doing what he's doing."

It's never smooth nor pretty with the No. 32 pick from this year's draft. Electric and erratic, Jackson has issues with fumbling and accuracy.

His ninth fumble of the season led to Tampa Bay's only touchdown of the game. But Jackson responded with a drive in which he hit Willie Snead for a 14-yard completion on third-and-10 and a five-yard run on fourth-and-1 in the red zone.

"I told coach, 'Freak!,'" Jackson said of his ninth fumble of the season. "I was like, 'Man, we have to go score now.' I don't like turning the ball over and not putting points on the board, so we just had to do the next job. I was ticked off though. I probably said other things."

With Jackson and running back Gus Edwards, the Ravens ran for 242 yards, which was 1 yard more than what the Buccaneers produced in total offense (241). Baltimore became the first team to gain over 190 yards rushing in five consecutive games since the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers did so with Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier.

"It's fun for us offensive linemen to pound the rock like that," guard Marshal Yanda said. "That's like college football right there."

This marks the third straight season the Ravens are at 8-6 with two games remaining. Baltimore failed to reach the postseason because of last-minute losses to Pittsburgh in 2016 and Cincinnati last season.

The Ravens can be eliminated from the postseason next week if they lose at the Chargers and three teams (Steelers, Colts and Titans) all win.

"I think our mindset right now is just to focus on L.A. [Chargers] and get ready for a Saturday night showdown," Snead said. "We feel like we're in position to control everything, and right now we're just trying to take it game by game and prepare ourselves and get ready to win these last two games."