Lamar Jackson has been a revelation in Baltimore with the Ravens going 5-1 since naming the rookie quarterback their starter in Week 11.
But he’s had a problem holding on to the football, fumbling 10 times this year heading into Sunday’s critical season finale against the Cleveland Browns with the AFC North at stake.
Early whistle costs Browns
His ball control issues came up again against Cleveland, but thanks to an early whistle from officials, the play didn’t end up being the disaster it should have been for the Ravens.
On third-and-goal inside the 1-yard line late in the first half, Jackson took the snap and leapt toward the goal line on a sneak with the football outstretched.
No touchdown for Browns
A Browns defender knocked the ball loose, but officials called the play a touchdown on the field that would have given the Ravens a 26-7 lead in the second quarter.
Browns safety Jabril Peppers picked up the ball and started to run for the opposite end zone before realizing that the play had been blown dead.
Officials reviewed the play as they do all scoring plays and determined Jackson did not break the plane of the end zone with the ball. He came up just short before pulling the ball back and losing control of it.
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) December 30, 2018
Officials correctly ruled that Browns defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi forced a fumble and that Peppers recovered it at the 7-yard line, wiping the Ravens touchdown off the board.
What officials didn’t and couldn’t do was award the Browns a touchdown, which would have been the inevitable result had the play been ruled correctly on the field. There were no Ravens players standing between Peppers and the end zone. He would have run to an easy score.
Ravens win, clinch division
The Browns went three-and-out on their ensuing possession and ended up losing the game 26-24, allowing the Ravens to clinch the AFC North. They did end up getting the ball back in the first half for a late touchdown.
It was a critical misstep from the officials in a game that ended up determining who did and didn’t make the playoffs.
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