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After the Baltimore Ravens lost to the Cincinnati Bengals to crash out of the 2023 playoffs, there shouldn’t be a bad thing to say about backup quarterback Tyler Huntley. The second-stringer gave it his all and got his team within a yard of taking the lead (and a fingertip of tying it at the end). However, the inexperienced QB’s fumble led to a stunning 98-yard return that won the game for the Bengals. The player most at fault for that, though, was Lamar Jackson.

Lamar Jackson cost the Ravens a playoff game

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens, Tyler Huntley, Cincinnati Bengals
Tyler Huntley of the Baltimore Ravens fumbles the ball that is recovered by Sam Hubbard of the Cincinnati Bengals to score a 98 yard touchdown during the fourth quarter in the AFC Wild Card playoff game | Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Steve Young Angrily Declares Lamar Jackson Is Being ‘Held Back’ By Ravens Offensive Scheme

Superstar Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has an injury, and, as he explained in a tweet, it seems to be healing slower than expected. However, it does seem like there are some contract-related issues surrounding his absence.

And in situations like this, more than one thing can be true. Sitting out this game was a good business decision for Jackson, who is in line for a $250 million or more contract. It’s the Ravens organization’s fault that it wasn’t taken care of sooner. So, they share some blame in this, too.

Also true is the fact that Jackson made a selfish decision. He’s seen players like Robert Griffin III get hurt, lose their athleticism, and never get a massive, life-changing extension. The former Louisville Cardinal decided he’s not going out like that and sat this game.

It’s a fine decision, maybe even a smart one, but it is also the definition of selfish.

The final thing that is true here is that Lamar Jackson’s absence cost the Ravens the game.

Tyler Huntley was excellent this game, running and making timely throws to keep the team in the game while the Ravens D dominated. His only major mistake was a mistake that a lot of young, athletic QBs trying to do too much make. He stretched the ball out at the goal line, and the Bengals knocked it away.

That happens seemingly every week in the NFL. Surely it happened to Jackson at some point, and he ultimately learned from it.

The point is, though, if Jackson was in this game, it’s probably not this close. The Ravens outplayed the Bengals on almost every level. If he’s in the game, he probably scores that touchdown, too, or at least doesn’t fumble it.

In the end, the pundits will talk about how the game came down to a mistake by Huntley. The truth is, this game was lost well before Huntley fumbled or even before he stepped on the field.

This game was lost two offseasons ago when the Bills gave Jackson’s fellow Class of 2018 QB, Josh Allen, a colossal contact, and the Ravens didn’t. It was lost again this past offseason when Kyler Murray jumped the QB extension line and got a big deal, while Jackson still didn’t have one.

And it was lost when Lamar Jackson finally realized his time with the Ravens was over and decided to take care of a legitimate injury instead of pushing himself for a franchise that he feels doesn’t value him.

That’s why the Ravens lost to the Bengals in the Wild Card game, and it’s why we’ll likely never see Lamar Jackson in a Ravens uniform again.