Lamar Jackson’s Unwavering Mental Resolve Reinvigorates the Ravens Amidst Chaos
Lamar Jackson heard all the noise. He was 0-3 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Baltimore Ravens can’t win big games with him under center.
Despite a rough start on Sunday Night Football, Jackson showed resiliency. His mental toughness under immense pressure may give Baltimore the boosts it needs after a disastrous start to the 2021 NFL season.
Lamar Jackson threw 2 costly interceptions early in the game
Before the Week 2 matchup, many considered the Chiefs to be Lamar Jackson’s kryptonite. The numbers were somewhat indicative of that, too.
Jackson had a 78.9 quarterback rating and 52.6 completion percentage in three career games against the Chiefs. He had lost two fumbles and been sacked nine times. Interceptions hadn’t been an issue against Kansas City until their 2021 tilt.
The Ravens’ first possession of the game ended in a Tyrann Mathieu interception return for a touchdown. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins slipped, and the Honey Badger took advantage.
Jackson threw a more egregious interception later in the first quarter. The Louisville product tried to force the ball to Marquise Brown in the end zone, and it backfired. Mathieu picked off his second pass of the game. It’s unclear what Jackson saw on that play, but it stalled a drive on which Baltimore should’ve scored.
Fumbles were the bugaboo in the Week 1 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Early interceptions proved costly for the Ravens in the first half against the Chiefs. Turnovers typically spell doom when playing against championship-caliber teams.
Many quarterbacks would’ve packed it in, but not Lamar Jackson.
Jackson rebounded and led the Ravens to a comeback victory
After throwing the two early interceptions, Jackson bounced back in a major way. He was the best player on the field for the rest of the game.
The former MVP finished the game with 239 passing yards and a touchdown. He also gashed the Kansas City defense for 107 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. The Ravens established their potent rushing attack throughout the game, and Jackson led the charge.
The Ravens trailed 21-17 heading into halftime. The Chiefs possessed the ball first to begin the second half, and it only took five plays for Patrick Mahomes to connect with Byron Pringle for a touchdown. The score put Kansas City up 28-17.
Andy Reid’s team has shown a tendency to start slow, then turn things up a few notches in the second half. It happened in the Chiefs’ Week 1 comeback victory over the Cleveland Browns. They can score points in bunches, and it appeared this game might be no different.
Jackson was not to be denied, though. Mahomes landed a punch, but the Ravens signal-caller came back with a blow of his own, hitting Marquise Brown for a 42-yard touchdown. He had an answer every time.
Baltimore trailed 35-30 with just over 11 minutes to play in the fourth quarter. The Ravens offense controlled the clock and capped off an eight-minute drive with a Jackson touchdown run.
After Odafe Oweh forced a clutch fumble, the Ravens had an opportunity to seal the game. In true Ravens fashion, John Harbaugh put the game in Jackson’s hands. They went for it on fourth down, and the Pompano Beach, Florida, native delivered.
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens are battle-tested early in the 2021 season
No NFL team has battled more adversity to start the 2021 season than the Baltimore Ravens.
They have been decimated by injuries just two weeks into the regular season. John Harbaugh’s squad leads the league with 15 players currently on injured reserve.
J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill were the top three running backs on the depth chart heading into the preseason. All three players suffered season-ending injuries before the first regular-season game. All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters endured the same fate.
The Ravens drafted wide receiver Rashod Bateman in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but they’re without him for at least a few more weeks. A host of other injuries have set the team back.
The lack of continuity proved fatal in Baltimore’s shocking loss to the Raiders. However, the victory over the Chiefs has given this team new life.
Lamar Jackson doesn’t shy away from big moments. Instead, he embraces them. Those intangibles are the reason Harbaugh has so much faith in the 24-year-old quarterback.
Despite his young age, Jackson is one of the Ravens’ emotional leaders. His track record proves that he can take over a game with his unique abilities. Don’t count Baltimore out just yet.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference