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Ravens' Tony Jefferson used Madden to help make free agent decision

Ravens' Tony Jefferson used Madden to help make free agent decision

The Ravens' newly signed Safety Tony Jefferson had some interesting criteria when it came to choosing which team he would sign with during free agency.

The 25-year-old former Cardinals defensive back was a hot prospect on the market this off season. He signed a four-year deal worth $34 million with $19 million guaranteed on the first day of free agency. He had an offer from the Browns for more money but told NFL Network that he didn’t take the offer simply because “ I don’t play football for money.”

Other important criteria when it came to picking a team? What uniform looked best on Jefferson, and to see which one looked best on him he used Madden. He told NFL Media:

“I am a guy of swagger, so I gotta check the swag at all points before I make a decision. I put myself in different uniforms on Madden to see what will look better. Ravens did look good, though.”

His favorite uniform combination of the Ravens? Black on black.

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 6.0

Jefferson mentioned to NFL Media that fellow Ravens Safety Eric Weddle reached out and sold him on signing with the team. The demeanor of head coach John Harbaugh and how the Ravens run their front office also helped him make his decision.   

“ [Ravens coach John Harbaugh is an] exciting dude. He talks to his players, and Eric was telling me that the coaching staff and front office guys aren't like other front offices. They actually enjoy being with their players and talking to them and let you be who you are. Just stay in the confines of the organization and don't draw any negative attention.”

           

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Lamar Jackson stymies Seahawks' defense, runs wild in 30-16 road victory

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Lamar Jackson stymies Seahawks' defense, runs wild in 30-16 road victory

Lamar Jackson was incensed coming off the field at the end of the third quarter. 

His most reliable offensive weapon, Mark Andrews, had just dropped two passes, and Jackson’s rush on third down only left the Ravens with fourth and two. So coach John Harbaugh asked his quarterback if he wanted to go for it on 4th down. The answer was a definitive yes.

The offense trotted back onto the field and Jackson scored a touchdown on the ensuing conversion as the Ravens, from that fourth down on, ended the game on a 17-3 run to pull out a 30-16 victory against the Seahawks in Seattle.

“I decided to stay with the field goal, play it safe a little bit,” coach John Harbaugh explained. “He came off, you could just see it in his face. I asked him, ‘You want to go for it?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, I wanna go for it.’ I was told that Marshal (Yanda) said, ‘If he wants to go for it, I want to go for it.’ I felt the same way. If he wants to go for it, I want to go for it, too.”

Jackson’s run on a quarterback power — and his confidence in the decision — inspired the rest of the team.

"I was just charged up,” Jackson said. “I was tired of not scoring."

But while the fourth down was where the game turned on its head, Baltimore’s next drive was its most impressive of the afternoon.

The Ravens, more specifically Jackson, drove 96 yards down the field on 13 plays and used nine minutes of game clock as a Justin Tucker field goal put the the team ahead by 10.

“He’s a competitor,” Harbaugh said. “This guy is a competitor of the Nth degree. I don’t know how to describe what a competitor Lamar Jackson is. He wants to win at everything all the time. We feed off that, he carries that. I think that’s who we are as a team, I think that’s why he fits us so well.”

On the following Seattle drive, Marlon Humphrey picked up a fumble and ran it back for a touchdown to put an exclamation point on the Ravens’ biggest win of the season

The Ravens defense played its best game of the season against the MVP favorite through six weeks of the season. 

Still, the story of the game was Jackson and his ability to seemingly drag the Ravens offense down the field by himself for first downs. 

“People just don’t really want to give Lamar the respect he deserves,” Humphrey said. “But what I saw today, I felt like football is a game of a lot of aggression, a lot of emotions. We had the little snap count infraction with our center, when I saw Lamar...I felt like from there, it was something different that came out of Lamar. That’s a quarterback I really like to see.”

Jackson finished with 116 yards rushing on 14 carries and 143 yards through the air. But while his passing numbers weren’t eye-popping, his runs were what extended the game and gave the Ravens a chance to win. 

In just his 15th career start, Jackson is rapidly growing into the quarterback the Ravens hoped they were getting they drafted him in 2018. And through seven games this year he’s on pace to place fifth all-time in total offense, with a projected 5,088 total yards. 

Jackson went into perhaps the toughest venue in the NFL and escaped with a convincing victory, a win in which no one will dispute who was the best player on the field. 

He’s also just 22-years old.

“We have yet to see the best of Lamar Jackson,” Peters said. “I don’t know how to stop him.”

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Ravens establish themselves as contenders with their biggest win of the season

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Ravens establish themselves as contenders with their biggest win of the season

The Ravens already have five wins this season, a total topped by just four other teams so far. At 5-2 with a two-and-a-half game lead in the AFC North, they’ve certainly enjoyed a strong start to the season.

As many fans and national pundits have been quick to point out, however, the Ravens’ first four wins didn’t come against the strongest level of competition.

You can only play the teams on your schedule, of course, but that didn’t make Baltimore’s 4-2 start any more impressive. Their first four wins came against the Dolphins (a threat to go 0-16), the Cardinals (worst record in the NFL last season), the Steelers (finished on their third-string QB) and the Bengals (also a threat to go 0-16). Two of those games even came at home.

Those teams are a combined 5-20-1. The Ravens entered Sunday having faced just one opponent with a winning record -- the Chiefs -- and they lost.

It was easy, and probably accurate, to point out the Ravens had yet to beat a good team this season. That statement may have been true before Sunday.

But not anymore.

The Seahawks entered Sunday’s game 5-1, looking like one of the NFC’s strongest contenders fresh off wins over preseason darlings Browns and Rams.

Russell Wilson has been something close to the consensus MVP in the NFL this season, throwing for 1,704 yards, 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions, all while leading the NFL in yards per attempt (9.0).

Moreover, CenturyLink Field is notoriously one of the most difficult places to play in the NFL. Every Raven at the podium after the game mentioned how loud and difficult the atmosphere was. Lamar Jackson was beside himself after a red zone delay of game penalty caused by crowd noise.

It’s easy to see why the Seahawks rarely lose at home.

On top of all that, the Ravens are dealing with major injury issues. The secondary, having to face an elite quarterback, was without preseason starters Jimmy Smith, Tavon Young, and Tony Jefferson. The defense was also without its best linebacker, Patrick Onwuasor.

The offense, playing in poor weather conditions in the most difficult environment in football, was without the field-stretching Marquise Brown.

And yet, not only did the Ravens overcome these obstacles to win, but they did it with surprising ease. A few optimistic fans may have predicted a Ravens win, but no one expected it to come by two touchdowns.

This win was especially critical, considering the slate of games Baltimore has ahead. After the bye comes New England, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Buffalo sandwiched around a trip to Cincinnati. 

Those are five of the better teams in football, with very little chance to regain their breath. But Sunday’s victory shows that the Ravens actually can play with the cream of the crop around the league. 

Stop saying the Ravens haven’t beaten a good team yet this season. Now they have. And with it, they’ve announced themselves as contenders in the top-heavy AFC.

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