Lamar Jackson’s Clutch Performance Lifts Ravens, Changes Narrative

In an epic shoot-out to define the AFC North race down the stretch, the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens put together a prime-time thriller. However, the Lamar Jackson clutch Monday night performance is one that fans will discuss for a long time down the road. For now, he’s making this Ravens team look more imposing than ever.

Needing to step up, the Lamar Jackson clutch effort left a strong impression on fans after an impressive Monday night

On a cold night in Cleveland, Ohio, Lamar Jackson provided a spark in the Ravens season. One that was much needed in the midst of a tricky 2020 campaign. There were two quarterbacks needing to change some of their surrounding big game narratives.

Both Jackson and Baker Mayfield stepped up for their teams, making for a Monday night gem.

Early in the game, it looked like Baltimore started to run away with it; they were just staying too far ahead of Cleveland. However, when Lamar Jackson left the game late in the third quarter, dealing with cramping, the game suddenly got tight.

With Jackson in the locker room, Cleveland charging from behind to take the lead, Trace McSorley took over at the quarterback with mixed results. However, he led a go-ahead drive down into shallow Browns’ territory but injured his knee right at the two-minute warning, making matters worse, it was fourth-and-five, potentially without a Ravens’ quarterback left on the depth chart… and then came Lamar.

Fresh out of the tunnel, Jackson snapped the ball, rolled right, and looked to have an easy first down with his feet (or an easy pitch to JK Dobbins). Instead, Jackson eyed Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who struggled with dropped passes all night, hitting him with a perfect 44-yard pass, in-stride for a touchdown. Soon after, a full-steam two-point conversion from Dobbins made it a 42-35 lead for Baltimore.

Of course, there was 1:51 left on the game clock. So it left Mayfield enough time to power through a 47-second, 75-yard drive to make it 42-42. There was 1:04 left on the clock; everyone in the State of Ohio looked up and realized it was far too much time.

Riding their red-hot offense for a 6-play, 38-yard drive, Baltimore made it a 55-yard field goal for future Hall of Fame kicker Justin Tucker. After the dust settled and Cleveland turned their lateral drill into a safety. Then, the final score read 47-42, Baltimore.

“If you wrote a movie about this, people wouldn’t believe it,” Baltimore Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh said in his postgame press conference. “They would say it could never happen.”

The stat sheet shows Jackson finishing the day with 163 passing yards, 124 rushing yards, 1 passing, and 2 rushing touchdowns. Truly, the performance goes far beyond numbers. Suddenly, this Lamar Jackson clutch performance has the Ravens looking fearsome in the AFC.

In the past, the Lamar Jackson clutch performances haven’t happened in the biggest spots

Things haven’t always worked out well for the Ravens and Jackson in clutch moments. Granted, Jackson is the reigning league MVP, led his team to the playoffs in each of the first two seasons, and is one of the great dual-threat quarterbacks in today’s league. Talking points surrounding the young star often center around his inability to get the Ravens over the hump.

While Jackson has mostly impressed in primetime, his mostly unimpressive playoff performances coupled with a Monday Night Football blunder earlier this season put some red flags on the record. However, this Monday Night Football victory against Cleveland showed Jackson’s ability to close a big one.

This win and performance showed a lot about Jackson and the Ravens. It showed that in their current form, they can win a late-season shoot-out. That’s playoff football in a nutshell.

Turing the corner and the narrative in the playoffs will be hugely important for the 23-year-old quarterback. Beating a team like Cleveland, on their home field with the bright lights shining, in the freezing cold air was impressive. It shows that Lamar can be ‘that’ guy.

They still have work to do, but Baltimore looks like a hard out in the playoffs

While it took an escape act to knock off the Browns, the Ravens look more dangerous than ever. After their Monday night victory, Baltimore is knocking on the door of the seventh playoff seed. This Cleveland team was on a sharp upward trend heading into that Monday night contest. After the win, the Ravens now have an 88% shot to make the playoffs according to FiveThirtyEight. This isn’t a Ravens team that others will be excited to see.

This Baltimore team finds itself in a pretty good spot. Especially when considering all the obstacles Baltimore faced during the 2020 season, it’s impressive. Certainly, it’s been one a lesser team couldn’t weather.

Injuries and departures across the offensive line, the nasty departure of Earl Thomas in training camp, an internal COVID-19 outbreak that took out key players including Jackson, and the hangover effect from their incredible 14-2 campaign a season ago, this team is standing strong with just three weeks left.

Baltimore also gets some help from their remaining schedule. They’ll host the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants before closing the season on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals. Playing high-level football in December, those all look like wins for the Ravens. That means heading into the playoffs, they could be playing some of the hottest football in the league.

Sitting outside of the playoff picture, Baltimore just needs to keep winning. With Lamar Jackson looking back to MVP form in their last two games, it’s within reason.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images