BALTIMORE -- The celebration was almost muted Thursday night, as it had been the week before, when a playoff berth was clinched with a month left in the season. The Ravens were AFC North champions for the second straight year, and at the end, it looked almost like just another preseason win, quarterback Lamar Jackson relaxing on the sideline, M&T Bank Stadium quickly emptying, a franchise fixated on the future.
The Ravens' 42-21 win Thursday over the New York Jets was remarkable for the normalcy of the historic proceedings: Of course the Ravens had extended their franchise-record winning streak to 10 games. Of course Jackson had broken Michael Vick's single-season rushing record for a quarterback. Of course the Ravens had repeated as kings of the North for the first time since 2011-12.
Few would dispute that the Ravens have entered the regular season's home stretch as the NFL's best team, and their ambitions match that esteem. They didn't cheer too loudly when they secured their playoff ticket Sunday. They didn't rush the field in ecstasy as the seconds ticked away Thursday at M&T Bank Stadium. This was not like 2018, when the Ravens needed a Week 17 win to extend their season.
This is a year in which the Ravens' potential is as big as their imagination, as immense as their star quarterback's talent. Jackson finished 15 for 23 for 212 yards, posting his third five-touchdown game this season, and added eight carries for a game-high 86 yards. He was not perfect, and nor were the Ravens, but it was more than enough. They can look like Super Bowl contenders in a game that felt substandard.
After taking care of business Thursday, the Ravens can get some help over their weekend off. They would clinch their first first-round bye in the AFC playoffs since 2011 with a New England Patriots loss to the Cincinnati Bengals or a Kansas City Chiefs loss or tie to the Denver Broncos on Sunday. They'd clinch home-field advantage for the first time in franchise history if the Patriots lose and the Chiefs lose or tie.
In their time off, the Ravens can take their franchise record book in for a reprinting. Every first-half drive seemed to mark another Ravens high.
In the Ravens' first drive, Jackson overtook Vick. In the second quarter, Mark Andrews caught his eighth touchdown pass this year, breaking Todd Heap and Dennis Pitta's single-season franchise record for touchdowns by a tight end.
Later in the first half, the Ravens set a franchise record for rushing yards, breaking the mark of 2,674 set in Jamal Lewis' epic 2003 season.
Marquise "Hollywood" Brown's third-quarter toe-tap catch in the back of the end zone, his seventh score this season, tied Marlon Brown and Torrey Smith for the team rookie record for total touchdowns.
And another record could fall in Week 16 against the Cleveland Browns (6-7), the last team to beat the Ravens. Jackson needs just one passing touchdown to break quarterback Vinny Testaverde's 1996 mark of 33, the most in Ravens history.