It would have been fair to say that “the narrative” didn’t matter. Lamar Jackson was 0-2 in his first two postseason games, yes. But he was also the youngest quarterback to start an NFL playoff game when he did so as a rookie, in a season in which he only became the starter halfway through. And then last January, that shocking loss at home as the AFC’s No. 1 seed, a team loss, but one that Jackson would endure more than any other Raven. How could anyone draw firm conclusions from such a small sample size?
But instead of dismissing the narrative, that he couldn’t win a big game, Jackson faced it. While preparing for his third postseason in his third NFL season, the Baltimore quarterback spoke all week about Changing the narrative. As silly and pointless as a tag like a 24-year-old quarterback going 0-2 in his first two playoff starts, the truth is, those losses stung Jackson. He really wanted to win a playoff game, the first step to winning a ring, and while the narrative might not have much value, he did want to change it.
And so Jackson did both, with a 20-13 win against the Titans on Sunday afternoon.
This time, the Ravens were at the home stadium in Tennessee. They were a wild card team. The 2019 regular season was amazing and paradigm shifted, but much of the Ravens’ 2020 regular season had been frustrating.
Earlier in the year, the offense appeared to be searching for its identity on the fly. Jackson missed a game against the Steelers in Week 12 after testing positive for COVID-19. And the pandemic meant that the reigning MVP couldn’t have the kind of offseason he had a year ago. His 2020 resolutions to refine his deep balls and not lose speed on his pitches outside of the numbers became exponentially more difficult when he couldn’t have regular in-person sessions with his pitching coach, Joshua Harris, or his catchers.
But the Ravens now look like one of those teams that raged at the right time, an oversimplification of the work it takes to get an offense off the ground in a year interrupted by a pandemic and when every defensive opponent in the league has resolved to feature. . go away. Of course, there is a limit to what the smartest defensive minds or the most skilled players can do to stop a play like Jackson’s 48-yard touchdown run, in which he reached a top speed of more than 20 miles. per hour (according to the NFL). NextGen stats) as he stabbed at the infamous Titans logo and ran diagonally towards the pylon. That play erased the rest of Baltimore’s initial 10-0 deficit, the kind of hole Jackson and the Ravens hadn’t been able to get out of before. Another corrected narrative: Marquise Brown, who expressed her frustration on social media in November over a shortage of targets, was the team’s top receiver, with seven receptions for 109 yards.
Baltimore just followed a different trajectory this season: Their midseason struggles seem to have created their late-season hits. After Jackson returned from the COVID-19 roster, the Ravens won their last five games of the regular season, a must to fight to be the first AFC seed again, and the offense never amassed less than 385 yards since there. onwards. Sunday against the Titans was another 400-yard performance, including 136 yards rushing by Jackson, the third-highest total for a quarterback in NFL playoff history.
No, Jackson wasn’t perfect: His early game interception came on a very wide pass, when he threw inside his receiver, who had outside influence on Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler. That mistake led the Titans to build their 10-point lead. But unlike last January, when Jackson threw the ball to a personal high (by far59 times, the Ravens stayed true to who they and their quarterback are despite an early hole. Jackson racked up his rushing yardage with a variety of standout plays, including his touchdown run and 23-yard dash at third and two, a goalie after a false delivery, which helped set up Baltimore’s lead TD early in the third. fourth. . There were other occasions when his legs helped him make plays in the passing game, such as a third-down pitch in which he overcame the chase of the speedy CB Adoree ‘Jackson to hit a 17-yard throw to Mark Andrews, staying alive. . Baltimore’s first scoring gear.
This is when Jackson is at his best. We saw him in the last five weeks of the season and, with a lot of anticipation, we saw him in a playoff game. Jackson has always thrived by not being who the rest of the world thinks he is. On Sunday, he corrected this narrative, but he still has others to challenge.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.