Jackson shows MVP form to help Ravens beat Washington 31-17

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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs into the end zone for a touchdown against the Washington Football Team during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

LANDOVER, Md. – A few big plays went a long way for the Baltimore Ravens, who took a small step toward regaining the form they displayed last year as the highest-scoring team in the league.

Lamar Jackson ran for a 50-yard touchdown and threw for two scores in a bounce-back performance by the reigning NFL MVP and the Ravens, who took control early against Washington in a 31-17 victory Sunday.

Coming off a humbling loss to Kansas City on Monday night, Baltimore (3-1) used a forced fumble, a fake punt and the longest run of Jackson's career to build a 21-10 halftime lead.

“That was the key, plays being made," coach John Harbaugh said.

Washington (1-3) had more first downs, owned an edge in time of possession and had only 7 fewer yards than Baltimore. But the Ravens made things happen at just the right time.

“We didn’t have gigantic plays, but we had conversion plays," Harbaugh said, referring mostly to Jackson's 50-yard sprint on third down and punter Sam Koch's 15-yard completion on a fourth-and-9 that set up the first of Jackson's two touchdown passes to tight end Mark Andrews.

“We’re close," Andrews said of the Baltimore offense, which averaged 32 points per game in 2019. “It’s just little things here and there that need to be tightened up."

The game was tough to watch for Washington coach Ron Rivera, and not just because of the score. Weakened by treatment he received during the week for cancer, Rivera occasionally took a break by sitting on the bench.