The Cleveland Browns were not going to let Lamar Jackson beat them with his legs.
They certainly didn’t want to be featured on the NFL Network or Sports Center for the rest of the week, showing Jackson juking their defenders on his way to the end zone.
That was no problem for Jackson.
He simply shredded them through the air in the Ravens’ 38-6 season-opening victory.
Jackson completed 20 of 25 pass attempts for 274 yards with three touchdowns (152.1 rating). He also orchestrated a 99-yard scoring drive — the longest in Ravens’ history at home — that demoralized the Browns just before halftime.
“That’s a situation we go over in practice and stuff like that,” Jackson said about that drive. “I feel like our coach built us up for this, that type of environment or situation, and all of our guys do a great job of keeping their poise as well. We just moved the ball like we’re supposed to.”
The Ravens face lofty expectations as Super Bowl contenders this season. They checked almost every box against a Cleveland team that was supposed to be much improved with new coach Kevin Stefanski.
Instead, the Ravens started fast and pounded the Browns into submission. Newly acquired defensive end Calais Campbell knocked down two passes in Cleveland’s opening drive, including one that landed in the hands of Marlon Humphrey for an interception.
“It’s honestly … It’s crazy, because I feel like I didn’t play as good as I wanted to,” Campbell said. “I left a lot of plays out there. But to still be able to affect the game and be able to win the way we did, that’s just a testament to our preparation. We had an incredible camp, and it showed.”
The Ravens highly-touted draft class also flashed.
Running back J.K. Dobbins had a pair of touchdowns inside the red zone.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the rookies,” Harbaugh said. “We started the game [with] all of them, really, Tyre Phillips,Queen, Harrison, those guys played good, NFL football. We talked, I told them earlier … There’s other guys, too, that played on special teams; Proche and Devin and others, I don’t want to forget anybody.”
It wasn’t perfect.
The Ravens allowed the Browns to amass 138 yards rushing on 27 carries — that’s 5.1 yards per carry.
After a clean first half, the Ravens had six penalties over the final two quarters. Pat Ricard had a fumble inside the red zone.
Still, it was a performance the Ravens can build on heading into Houston in Week 2.
“We gave up more rushing yards than we wanted to, our guys are not going to be happy about that. I already know they’re not, because I’ve seen them, and that’s how they feel about it,” Harbaugh said. “But those are two excellent [running] backs. They see the field. They make great cuts. The offensive line is very adapted to running that scheme.
“We kept the receivers pretty much under control, which was big, because we know how good those guys are. Just a few plays in there, here and there. So, I was happy with that. We also know we can really improve and get so much better.”