Lamar Jackson finally got his opportunity to start an NFL game on Sunday and he led the Baltimore Ravens to a 24-21 win over their AFC North division rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals.
And just like that, he’s gone from the most doubted and dissected player in the 2018 Draft to the talk of the NFL.
The Ravens need to ride with Lamar Jackson (by @ConorOrr) https://t.co/2rFHCllvdo
Jackson is the last of the Fab Five rookie quarterbacks to snatch a starting position.
Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen were all drafted before the Ravens scooped Jackson with the last pick of the first round.
Jackson’s start came in Week 11 after starter Joe Flacco went down with an injury in week 10. The rookie came in and single-handedly lifted the Ravens back into the playoff mix.
The Ravens win over Cincy at M&T Bank Stadium ended a three-game losing streak and got Baltimore back to .500.
“We came out with a win,” Jackson said when asked to assess his NFL starting debut. “It was pretty good, I guess.”
That’s what franchise QB’s and stoppers do. They halt losing streaks and rekindle the faith in a failing franchise.
“The Lamar Jackson Era” is officially underway in Baltimore with an offense designed to maximize his strengths as a young QB with electrifying abilities.
It’s Lamar Jackson time 👀 (via @Ravens) https://t.co/fO9E6O8p4K
Jackson had so many negative forces and haters labeling him and criticizing his abilities during his draft process. The underlying racism was surely prevalent and it was a disappointing moment for the NFL. Some even suggested that he wasn’t a quarterback, but better suited for a wide receiver position.
The absurdities didn’t end, but the true believers understand the magnitude of Jackson’s talents and the unique skills, freakish talents and a winning attitude he had to offer.
The Ravens were one of those believers and now it’s about to pay huge dividends for them.
By the time the game was over, Jackson not only had the win, but he had a single-game, Super Bowl Era record of 27 carries for 117 yards as the leading rusher in the game.
Lamar Jackson had 27 rushing attempts today. No quarterback has had 25 or more rushing attempts since at least 1999. Unique weapon.
Jackson was also efficient through the air, completing 13-of-19 passes for 150 yards with an interception. It wasn’t the aerial show that Baker Mayfield produced in his rookie debut, but it was typical Lamar Jackson. He’s a football player and a damn good one.
He used his incredible athleticism, speed, field vision, and intelligence to lead drives and help the Ravens put up enough points up to win.
@Lj_era8 on the move! 📺: CBS #RavensFlock https://t.co/UEiZUAihEz
When he had to throw it, he did so. His elusiveness rivaled that of Russell Wilson. He made throws on the run and kept drives going.
As he matures and gets more confident in the offense, he’ll surely pass more. But to those who said he couldn’t lead teams to victories in the pros, go sit down in a corner somewhere and watch the rise of one of the NFL’s all-time rare talents.
Nobody’s making any predictions, but the journey is guaranteed to be exciting.