Lamar Jackson completed one of the most clutch runs in Baltimore Ravens history this past weekend. Following a 19-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in which the Ravens were missing multiple players due to a COVID-19 outbreak, Jackson and the Ravens needed to win their five remaining games to have a chance at qualifying for the playoffs. Their Week 17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals this past weekend was the fifth-win in a row for the Ravens and they have now qualified for the NFL playoffs for the third straight season. Now, Lamar Jackson has a chance to earn his revenge in a postseason matchup against the Tennessee Titans.
Since the 1970 merger, 7 quarterbacks have started a playoff game in each of their first three seasons:
Lamar Jackson can become the 8th with a win in Cincinnati on Sunday.
— Ryan Mink (@ryanmink) January 1, 2021
The win this past Sunday clinched a playoff spot for the Ravens but they likely have their sights set on bigger accomplishments. Coming into the season, the Ravens were seen as a should-be Super Bowl contender. They were coming off of a 14-2 season and had Jackson returning as the reigning MVP. Despite this, getting back to the playoffs was a little tougher than they expected.
Fittingly, the Ravens draw the Tennessee Titans in the first round of the 2020 playoffs. The Titans upset the Ravens in the 2019 playoffs with a 28-12 win that saw a historic season in Baltimore reach an unfulfilling end. Now, at the end of the 2020 season, Jackson and the Ravens have a chance to redeem themselves. Baltimore is not the juggernaut they were in 2019 but they are playing some of their best football of the year at the most crucial point.
Jackson and the Ravens now have their chance at redemption. Baltimore’s playoff matchup against Tennessee is a perfect opportunity to avenge their loss from last season and Jackson and the Ravens will be looking to win a revenge game next Sunday.
Lamar Jackson Gets Revenge Game vs Titans in Playoffs
History Has Not Been Kind to Jackson
By now, most NFL players and fans have a set ideology about Lamar Jackson; he is dominant in the regular season but has been underwhelming in the playoffs. He also still remains the youngest quarterback to start a playoff game.
Jackson struggled mightily in his first playoff game against the Los Angeles Chargers in 2018. He helped the Ravens win the AFC North by winning six of their final seven games but stumbled in his first playoff start. Through three quarters, Jackson had a net of negative-two yards passing. He eventually added two touchdowns to make the game close but fumbled on Baltimore’s final possession, handing the win to the Chargers.
Next year, Lamar Jackson faced off against the Titans in the 2019 playoffs. Coming into the game, Baltimore was riding a 12-game winning streak and boasted the best record in the NFL. Tennessee, on the other hand, was the sixth-seed with just a 9-7 record. Jackson played a much better game against the Titans than he did against the Chargers but was let down by his team as a whole. The Ravens run defense could not handle Derrick Henry as the 2019 rushing champion chugged for 182 yards on the ground while the Ravens receivers dropped a combined seven passes between them. Baltimore went 0-4 on fourth down including three failed conversions within Tennessee’s 21-yard line.
Jackson’s 0-2 record in the playoffs has haunted him as a starter but he has the ability to turn it around. The Ravens now need to put together their impressive defensive performance against the Chargers with Jackson’s good effort against the Titans.
The First Matchup This Season
The first indicator that things have changed since last year’s game is Baltimore’s first meeting with the Titans in 2020. While the Titans earned the win, the final score is doesn’t accurately portray how Baltimore and Lamar Jackson played.
The Ravens dominated the first half of the game but only managed to come away with a 14-10 lead at halftime. Jackson would then connect on a 31-yard pass to Mark Andrews and score with their first possession of the second half to go up 21-10. Baltimore would hold the lead until the 2:18 mark of the 4th quarter until an incredible catch and run effort by A.J. Brown found the end zone and gave the Titans their first lead of the half.
Jackson would then drive the ball down to the 14-yard line before a Dez Bryant false start negated a potential Marquise Brown walk-in touchdown. The penalty was the Ravens sixth of the day (culminating for a total of 81 yards). Baltimore’s drive would stall and a Justin Tucker field goal would send the game to overtime. Henry would walk off the game on the Titans first drive in overtime.
Baltimore’s loss to Tennessee was one of their more deflating losses of the year but if there is one positive to take away, it was their ability to somewhat contain Henry. The Ravens held the Titans running back for four quarters to just 96 yards on 25 attempts for a total of 3.8 yards per carry without their two best run stoppers — Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell. If Baltimore can keep Henry to a similar figure in the playoffs, they have to like their chances at pulling out a win.
Lamar Jackson vs the Titans Is Different This Time
The Baltimore team that played the Titans is not the same one that they will see next Sunday. Since the loss to the Titans, Lamar Jackson has been on a tear. He won his next five starts following the loss to the Titans and is playing some of the best football of his career.
Over the past five games, Jackson has been very efficient in almost every important statistical category. He is currently carrying a completion percentage of 67 percent, 15 total touchdowns to just four turnovers, a passer rating of 115.8 while rushing for 430 yards with an average of 7.68 yards per carry. Jackson has been sacked just five times for a league-low 22 yards in those five games.
J.K. Dobbins led all NFL running backs in yards per carry this year.
J.K. Dobbins: 6.0
Nick Chubb: 5.6
Aaron Jones: 5.5
Derrick Henry: 5.4
Lamar Jackson led everybody with 6.3 yards per carry.
— Ryan Mink (@ryanmink) January 5, 2021
Baltimore’s rushing game as a whole has also vastly improved besides Jackson. The Ravens are averaging an insane 267.4 rushing yards per game, the most yards per carry by almost a full yard more (0.9) than any other team, and have the most rushing touchdowns over the past five weeks. Their 404 rushing yards against the Bengals Week 17 set a new franchise record for the Ravens and were the second-most by any team in a single game in the Super Bowl era. They have also scored the second-most points in the NFL over that timeframe and finished 2020 with the league’s best point differential.
The Ravens are simply a better team than they were when they played the Titans Week 11. Jackson is back to the player he was in 2019 and is turning the offense around with him.
Expectations For Jackson Are Always High
When a player wins a unanimous MVP award, their expectations will be altered. The NFL MVP is the biggest single-season regular-season accomplishment a player can get and Jackson did it in his first full season as a starter. The majority of quarterbacks don’t have that much success in their entire career but because Jackson did it so early into his career, his expectations have been raised.
There is a noticeable contrast between Jackson’s 30-7 regular-season record with his 0-2 playoff record. Whether Jackson can mend the gap is up to him. His two playoff losses have been somewhat erratic but it’s important to note that Jackson is still just 23 years old. Jackson’s second attempt at the playoffs went much better than his first and his third try could be the breakthrough he’s been needing.
What is perhaps the most underrated factor for Jackson is that he has essentially been playing playoff football for over a month now. After losing the Steelers, there was no room for error in Baltimore. The Ravens had to win five straight games, and Jackson was nearly flawless over that stretch. Their game against the Titans might look like their first win-or-go-home game of the season but Jackson has had his back against the wall for five weeks now and has done everything needed to make sure his team didn’t go home early.
Jackson has always said his goal in the league was to bring a Super Bowl to Baltimore and he’ll have another chance at accomplishing that goal this season against a team that has given him fits to this point. Tennessee is the ultimate revenge opponent for Jackson to get his playoff career back on track.
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