With under three minutes left in the opening half of Lamar Jackson’s third straight playoff appearance for the Baltimore Ravens, the team found itself trailing the Tennessee Titans 10-3.
Anyone watching the game who’s followed football for the past three seasons knew the Ravens often faltered when down early.
Last season after Jackson took home an MVP trophy, and an overall terrific season as a team, was all for not. Baltimore was hammered back down to earth by the Titans.
It wasn’t just Derrick Henry running the ball all over them either, but the Ravens coaching came into question—again.
But this game began almost the same as last year’s on my TV screen. The difference this time was that Baltimore didn’t flinch when down early.
Jackson, with his Ravens down by a touchdown and the first half almost in the books, took off up the middle and cut to his right, running 48-yards for a game-tying touchdown.
But Baltimore received the kickoff after half and never looked back, just hanging on to seal the win with electrifying runs for first downs from Jackson and J.K. Dobbins that kept the clock rolling.
Even though Jackson’s career’s just begun, he’s already one of the most unique football players to ever set foot between the white lines and is easily one the most exciting.
In the 2018 NFL Draft, Jackson was picked 32nd overall by the Ravens.
Being the last pick of the first round, and the the fifth quarterback selected, showed that even after an electrifying college career at Louisville—that included a Heisman Trophy and breaking multiple school records—many draft evaluators and teams believed his game and style of play wouldn’t translate to the pro level.
Now, after only three seasons of pro football, the quarterback out of Boynton Beach Community High School in South Florida has the Ravens two wins away from every player and team’s ultimate goal in pro football: the Super Bowl.
Despite carrying the Ravens to the playoffs each of the three seasons and hoisting an MVP trophy, many still doubt him.
But Jackson’s 48-yard touchdown run, which catapulted the Ravens from the Wild Card round into what could be a potential Super Bowl push, is now one of the defining plays of his young career.
Quite the accomplishments for a player who Hall of Fame GM Bill Polian suggested should consider changing positions from quarterback to wide receiver before the draft.
Polian’s views have become the most heard and seen but coming out of Louisville, many NFL teams thought he couldn’t throw.
He proved his doubters wrong after he threw for 36 touchdowns to only six interceptions and led all quarterbacks in touchdown passes from the pocket in his MVP season last year.
“Not bad for a running back” was Jackson’s go-to saying after games, and he couldn’t have been more right to say so.
He’s proven he can throw, but he’s not shying away from his special talent as a runner. The whole NFL and football-watching world has seen how dangerous he can be with his feet.
According to Pro Football Focus, Lamar’s tied with Cleveland running back Nick Chubb for the most 20-yard or more runs with 35 since 2018. Jackson’s also had 10 games of 100-yards rushing or more following only behind Michael Vick’s 11 games.
Michael Vick’s single-season rushing record was one that seemed as though it would stand forever, but that was before Lamar Jackson. Jackson ran away with this record and the Ravens popular catchphrase ‘Big Truss’ in his 2019 MVP-winning year.
Mark Ingram coined the motto for the team, which wants to play through Jackson and for him, even though it seems at times the coaches don’t want to.
Jackson has now dubbed the phrase ‘Big Truzz’. Baltimore certainly needed it after this past season which was a far cry from the success the team had in 2019, when the team went 14-2 and earned a first-round bye, along with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
But after rushing for 136 yards to NFL leading rusher Derrick Henry’s 40 yards on Jan. 10, Jackson’s closer to holding up the Lomabardi trophy in a storm of confetti than he is to the trying season that’s behind him.
“They’re gonna get a Super Bowl out of me. Believe that,” Jackson told reporters after last season’s playoff exit.
Now, having gotten over the hump of the Titans, Jackson and his murder of Ravens head north to the Queen City, where the Buffalo Bills await them in what could be a snowstorm.
Bill’s quarterback Josh Allen’s had a season to remember, throwing for 37 touchdowns and breaking Jim Kelly’s Buffalo franchise record of 33 touchdowns through the air in 1991—a year the Bills also appeared in the Super Bowl.
The Bills sent a first-round pick this offseason to Minnesota for Stefon Diggs, and to put it simply, the Vikings clearly weren’t using Diggs enough, considering the season he put up for the Bills. he led the NFL with 1,535 receiving yards.
This is a spectacular matchup between two great up-and-coming quarterbacks. Comparisons have already been made, as Allen and Jackson are form the same draft class.
Each has a unique playing style and approach to the game.
However, while Allen has a more conventional approach, not everyone’s a fan of Jackson’s style and leadership, but his teammates believe in him and love his style and that’s all that matters for a quarterback.
Jackson led his teammates off the field after defeating the Titans without shaking hands. While some saw this as disrespectful, it was an eye for an eye.
During the Ravens-Titans matchup in the regular season, Titans players had warmed up on the Ravens logo and taunted Baltimore Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.
“There wasn’t a reason to shake hands,” Jackson said after the game.
Ravens defensive back Marlon Humphrey told the team’s website about the team’s confidence in their quarterback, how Jackson spoke to the team before the game and how they all felt like they would win because of it.
Jackson said in a postgame interview this season, “I’m a kid from South Florida. And kids from South Florida play football. It’s what we do.”
His mindset was on full display when a video posted to Instagram showed Jackson running barefoot playing football with neighborhood kids over the offseason in his hometown.
Social media outrage set in with fans and analysts being distraught and confused while saying he shouldn’t be playing like that because he’s going to hurt himself.
But that’s what makes him so good on Sundays. He’s all about football.
No matter where or when—he’s ready to play ball.
The Ravens may come up short against the Bills, but Jackson is 24 years old and, while nothing’s certain in the NFL, he’ll more than likely have Baltimore back in the playoff hunt with the full support of his teammates and of course – their ‘Big Truzz’.