BALTIMORE -- The Ravens will look to keep their playoff hopes alive with Tyler Huntley.
Lamar Jackson was ruled out for a third straight game, which means Huntley started at quarterback for Sunday's crucial game against the Los Angeles Rams.
Jackson had been questionable after missing the final two practices of the week due to a right ankle injury. He hasn't played since hurting his ankle on Dec. 12, when Baltimore lost at Cleveland 24-22.
Huntley will look to help the plummeting Ravens (8-7) end their four-game losing streak, which has put them on the playoff bubble. If Baltimore wins, its playoff chances increase to 59%, according to ESPN's Football Power Index. If the Ravens lose, their postseason chances fall to 8%.
Undrafted out of Utah in 2020, Huntley has proved to be a more-than-capable replacement for Jackson, playing better than his 1-1 record as a starter would indicate. He led a game winning fourth-quarter drive in his first start (a 16-13 victory in Chicago on Nov. 21) and nearly rallied Baltimore from a 21-point deficit after taking over for Jackson early in the second quarter in Cleveland three weeks ago.
In his last start -- a 31-30 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 19 -- Huntley became the first Ravens player to record multiple touchdown passes and touchdown runs in a game. He was scheduled to start last Sunday's game in Cincinnati before testing positive for COVID-19 the day before.
After being activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday, Huntley took the first-team reps for Baltimore in the final two practices of the week. Huntley's backup will be Josh Johnson, a 35-year-old journeyman who threw for 304 yards and two touchdowns in last Sunday's 41-21 loss in Cincinnati.
"It's football at the end of the day," Huntley said about being thrust into pressure-filled situations. "We can't ever lose sight of that, and we can't put too much pressure on us because we're just humans playing a little kid's game. So I don't look too much into it. I just try to do my job, and I think that's what's playing out well for me."
The Ravens have reached the playoffs in each of Jackson's first three seasons and had hopes of the 2019 NFL MVP returning this week. But Jackson limped badly during Wednesday's practice, his first on-field work in 17 days, and sat out practices on Thursday and Friday.
Jackson, who was selected to the Pro Bowl, has now been sidelined for four games this season after only missing two of his first 37 starts from 2018 to 2020.
The Ravens are currently the No. 8 seed in the seven-team AFC playoff field. If Baltimore beats the Rams and the Miami Dolphins lose at the Tennessee Titans this week, the Ravens will control their own playoff fate in Week 18.
There's a possibility that Baltimore can be knocked out of the postseason race just five weeks after having the best record in the AFC. The Ravens can be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss and three teams all winning (the Raiders, Chargers and Dolphins); or, if they lose, the Raiders and Chargers lose, the Dolphins and Bills win and various strength-of-victory scenarios play out.