Razzling, Dazzling Toward The Playoffs

Street Talk Razzling, Dazzling Toward The Playoffs

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The Ravens predicted they were going to revolutionize the NFL with their revamped offense.

Some skeptics shrugged their shoulders at this proclamation.

After all, these critics had already made up their minds about the limitations of quarterback Lamar Jackson and his ability to throw the ball downfield.

The doubters are now eating a lot of … err, crow. 

Entering Week 11, Jackson and the Ravens have indeed created a buzz with their high-powered attack and highlight reel plays. 

Jackson made perhaps the play of the year with a 47-yard touchdown run where he juked several defenders and made a spin move to get into the end zone in a 49-13 rout of the Cincinnati Bengals. It was the longest rush by a quarterback since Cam Newton on Dec 10, 2017, (62 yards), according to ESPN. 

“They’ll be watching that run for decades and decades,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s rare. That was special.”

Jackson once again showed his character by saying the play was only important because it helped the team win.

While there are still weaknesses with the defense, namely with the pass rush, that unit is playing at a much higher level.  

However, the defense as a whole cannot afford injuries.

The Ravens were hampered when Michael Pierce had to leave the game with an ankle injury. Bengals running back Joe Mixon began to gouge the the run defense for significant yards, finishing with 114 yards on 30 carries. 

However, this is less of a concern because of the offense’s ability to rack up big numbers.

The Ravens are averaging an NFL-best 33.3 points per game. 

Teams just can’t figure out how to contain Jackson.

The Bengals stacked the box and dared Jackson to beat them through the air, so he did.

Jackson set the tone with a 49-yard completion to Marquise Brown on the first play from scrimmage. From there, Cincinnati’s defenders had their heads on a swivel, trying to figure out where the ball was going next. 

“They were determined to stop certain things and he was able to hurt them in the passing game as much as anything,” Harbaugh said. “Big plays in the passing game.”

Jackson completed 15 of 17 pass attempts for 223 yards with three touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 rating. He is just the second player in NFL history to produce a perfect passer rating (158.3) in multiple games in a single season, joining Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who accomplished the feat in 2007.

“You know I’m a quarterback at the end of the day and I want to prove that,” Jackson said.

Jackson is not only electrifying NFL fans, he is also making strides to galvanize the local Baltimore community, which is still struggling with a high crime rate. It’s almost like he provides a reprieve from the struggles of real life with the way he plays on Sunday.

In the big picture, the Ravens are 7-2 and still have a tight grip on the AFC North, despite victories by Pittsburgh (5-4) and Cleveland (3-6) in Week 10. The Ravens still have head-to-head matchups with both of those teams and can bury them with victories. 

Jackson has made his case for league MVP. 

While the Ravens still have tough games against the Texas, 49ers, Rams, and Bills, they are clearly in the driver’s seat to host a playoff game for the second straight year. 

That would be another boon to the city. 

“The Super Bowl is on my mind,” Jackson said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time. If the MVP comes, it comes. But that’s not my goal.”

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich
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