Lamar Jackson does it by himself in Seattle
The Baltimore Ravens started hot offensively in Seattle. Lamar Jackson came out firing with a 50-yard flick of the wrist to Miles Boykin.
Then, the Seattle rain put out the flames. Temporarily.
A pair of Justin Tucker field goals and some bad defensive “penalties” left us trailing 10-6 and heading in the wrong direction. Marcus Peters was having none of that.
Peters’ first interception (of many) as a Raven gave Russell Wilson his first interception of the season and the Ravens the lead.
Another Seattle field goal took us into half knotted up at 13. To go into Seattle and go punch-for-punch with the Seahawks after 30 minutes felt good. Then the Lamar Jackson show started.
I’m going to list some numbers here for you: 143, 116, 259, 76, 340, 81. Anybody want to guess what they mean?
Lamar Jackson had 143 passing yards and 116 rushing yards. His 259 scrimmage yards account for 76% of the Ravens’ 340 total yards. Remove Jackson, and the Ravens only gained 81 yards.
Plagued by drops from just about everybody, Lamar decided he would have to take this game over himself. Late in the 3rd quarter in a tie ballgame, he did just that.
Facing a 3rd-and-15 after a bad delay of game penalty and another Mark Andrews drop, Jackson darted for 13 yards leaving John Harbaugh with a tough decision on 4th-and-2. Justin Tucker trotted out for a FG he could have hit with his left foot, but Lamar was not satisfied with settling for 3.
How can you not love Lamar Jackson? How can you not want to run through 10 consecutive brick walls for him?
The Ravens followed the touchdown with a signature 9-minute, clock-draining 4th-quarter drive capped off by a Justin Tucker FG which all but put this game away. But the defense was not done yet.
D.K. Metcalf had arguably the worst ball security of all time and Marlon Humphrey hit ’em with the ol’ scoop n’ score to put the game out of reach.
This game is by far the biggest test the Ravens have faced all season and, other than literally catching the football, they nailed it. The defense, which had struggled greatly up to this point, scored more touchdowns than Russell Wilson could. Watching Lamar Jackson take control of a road game in one of the toughest stadiums against one of the league’s top teams was invigorating.
Yes, 9-of-20 for 143 yards is not MVP-caliber passing numbers but if you account for all the dropped passes, both of those statistics improve drastically. What cannot be quantified by numbers is Jackson’s resentment for stagnation and his fiery passion to win—which ignited this entire team Sunday. Qualities like this have made him the unquestioned leader of this team, and is what will separate him from guys like Matt Stafford (congrats to him, by the way), who have the stats but can’t get the wins.
With a convincing win against a title contender, MVP candidate Lamar Jackson and the Ravens now have a 3-game stranglehold on the AFC North heading into their bye week.
Baker Mayfield, who enjoys completing passes to opposing defenses more than touchdowns his own receivers, leads the 2-4 Cleveland Browns into Foxborough to play the New England Patriots. Expect the Ravens to have their margin widened here.
As for the 2-4 Pittsburgh Steelers, they head back home to Heinz Field against the winless Miami Dolphins who have shown signs of life the past 2 weeks. The Steelers looked good last week against the Los Angeles Chargers and could jump into the 2 spot in the AFC North while Mayfield and the Browns struggle to find themselves. You never hear the term trap game when talking about a winless team facing a 2-4 team, but I’m applying it here.
While I think it’s safe to say the league was put on notice Sunday, I think it’s best we remain humble until after New England. We all saw what happened the last time we bought into the hype. Until then, I will continue to be irrationally excited in my own head.
And on Twitter too, who am I kidding?