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Lamar Jackson shines on the ground and through the air in win over the Cardinals

Lamar Jackson shines on the ground and through the air in win over the Cardinals

BALTIMORE — Lamar Jackson saved his best for last. 

With the Ravens facing a 3rd and 11 at their own 44-yard line and 3:05 remaining in the game, they dialed up a pass play. It ended up Jackson’s longest pass of the day. 

Wide receiver Marquise Brown had man-to-man coverage down the right sideline and caught a perfectly placed ball from Jackson for a 41-yard gain. 

The Ravens ran for a first down to ice the clock from there, as Jackson finished with 272 yards —the second-highest total in his career — in a 23-17 win over the Cardinals Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. 

“He couldn’t have thrown it any better than that,” Brown said of the third-down conversion. “He put it in a great spot, and all I had to do, like I said, was hold my line.”

Jackson’s afternoon passing the ball wasn’t the only storyline, however.

He also rushed for a career-high 120 yards on 16 carries, leading the Ravens in both rushing and passing. 

Still, he found critique with his performance on a day he carried the Ravens from start to finish. 

“I feel like it was alright,” Jackson said. “Came out, executed some things. Could have been better. There’s a lot of passes I want back, some sacks I want back, but we came out with the victory.”

Jackson may not have impressed himself, but he impressed everyone else. He was the first player in NFL history to throw for over 270 yards and rush for 120 in the same game.

Jackson was breaking records — and he still thought he was off. Only no one else did. 

“He plays with feet, more than most quarterbacks,” Cardinals linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “It was good to see how much he has grown from last year. He’s an NFL quarterback now, and he’s phenomenal.”

Suggs, making his homecoming, couldn’t get a hold of Jackson, making three combined tackles. He had zero sacks. 

His prowess in the pocket kept Miami off-guard last week, and his elusiveness in the pocket kept Arizona off-guard this week. He was involved in 392 of the Ravens' 440 yards of total offense against the Cardinals. 

That’s what makes him one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in football. 

“It’s going to be a real conundrum for them,” coach John Harbaugh described of opponents planning for Jackson’s dual-threat ability. “It’s going to be a real challenge for them to figure that out. They’re going to have to figure it out for themselves. But this league has a lot of smart people and a lot of great players.”

Jackson has made a living with his tight ends through the first two games of the season, specifically with Andrews, who finished with eight receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals. He threw to Andrews consistently, so much so that Andrews became the first Raven since 2016 to post back-to-back 100 yard games. 

The two’s connection has been a steadying presence for the offense, something the team has been able to rely on for key third and fourth down situations. 

“I tell Mark all the time, ‘We’re going to play street ball,'” Jackson said. “And that’s what the case is. It was kind of like street ball, but everyone wants to win.”

Street ball or not, Jackson has developed a rapport with Andrews that’s been a link neither the Dolphins nor Cardinals could figure out. 

“The ferocious attitude that Mark is playing with, that’s a good quote right there, very descriptive,” Harbaugh said. “(Had) huge third-down conversions, third-and-longs a couple times if I recall right. Lamar made some great throws...but boy, Mark has a feel for the passing game.”

Of Jackson’s 37 pass attempts, Andrews was targeted on nine of them. 

The other significant number of targets went to Brown, who ended up with eight catches on 13 targets. He totaled 86 yards, including the 41-yard reception at the end of the game. But when his favorite targets aren’t there, Jackson can run off-script for game-changing plays.

“You all watched Lamar make great throws all day from the pocket,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “So, he has improved dramatically there. You’ve got to tip your hat to him. He is standing there and can throw it, and can beat you that way and with his legs. That’s a very good offense.”

In the last two weeks, Jackson has showcased his ability as a thrower and a passer. He was the AFC Offensive Player of the Week last week thanks to his arm, and today he carried the Ravens to victory with both his arm and legs. 

He might not have thought he played his best game, but the issue for opposing defenses now is figuring out which poison to take when it comes to Jackson’s dual-threat abilities. 

“I think for me, it his his composure right down to the end of the game,” right guard Marshal Yanda said. “It was not pretty at times, but we just kept at it, and in the fourth quarter he made the big play.”

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What the Marcus Peters trade means and how it shows the Ravens are making 2019 a priority

What the Marcus Peters trade means and how it shows the Ravens are making 2019 a priority

The Ravens have a problem in the secondary; no one can stay healthy. 

Baltimore suffered season-ending injuries to Iman Marshall and Tavon Young at cornerback and Tony Jefferson and DeShon Elliott at safety. Cornerback Jimmy Smith hasn’t played since Week 1 with a Grade 2 MCL sprain and Maurice Canady currently has a hamstring injury, coach John Harbaugh said. 

So on Monday, the Ravens traded for cornerback Marcus Peters from the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for linebacker Kenny Young and an undisclosed 2020 draft pick. 

Peters, 26, is in his fifth year as a pro and is in the final year of his rookie deal that is paying him just over $9 million against the cap this season. 

A true ballhawk, Peters has an NFL-best 24 interceptions since he entered the league in 2015 as a first round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Peters was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2015 and was a Second Team All-Pro that season. He was a First Team All-Pro a year later. 

With a host of injuries at cornerback and in the secondary the Ravens will likely use Peters right away opposite Marlon Humphrey, who has been one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks this season. Peters excels at turning the ball over, something safety Earl Thomas did in Seattle and a statistic in which the Ravens coaches have expressed a desire to improve.

The Ravens rank 13th in yards allowed per game, 30th in yards per play against and 25th in pass defense. Peters figures to help out in those departments.

Smith is expected to return sooner rather than later in the secondary, meaning the Ravens will have to find a way to get Humphrey, Peters, Smith and Brandon Carr on the field in a positive way.

And while Peters’ contract is up at the end of the season, the final 10 games could be a tryout to see how he fits into the team’s short-term and long-term plans. Should he impress, it’s not inconceivable the Ravens could re-sign him and make he, Humphrey and Young the team’s top three cornerbacks headed into the 2020 season.

If they don’t, they’ll be awarded a compensatory pick in 2021. As for what round, that will depend on how much Peters signs for. 

Either way, the move is an aggressive one to shore up a notable area of concern for the Ravens this season. It adds a cornerback who has had incredible success in his young career and adds a piece in the secondary to pair opposite Humphrey. 

The price wasn’t hefty, either. The Ravens moved on from Kenny Young, a linebacker who had fallen out of their plans, and a 2020 draft pick, one of many they possess next year. 

It’s a true low-risk, high-reward situation for a team that still thinks it can contend this season.

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6 moments that show how awesome newest Raven Marcus Peters is

6 moments that show how awesome newest Raven Marcus Peters is

Marcus Peters is a Raven now. Baltimore made it official Tuesday when they sent linebacker Kenny Smith and a draft pick to the Rams for the two-time All-Pro.

A two-time Pro Bowler, Peters has plenty of career highlights. It's hard to narrow it down, but here are some of his best.

He's got a game-sealing pick-six on Monday Night Football against the Raiders. He was fined for his "celebration" as he entered the end zone, but at least he was having a good time.

His entrance into the end zone was not nearly as smooth on this pick-six. His path to the goal line was much more difficult and he had to leave the game after this big hit.

Back when he was still with the Kansas City Chiefs, he showed a knack for finding the ball, stripping it from Jamaal Charles, scooping it up and returning it for a touchdown to open the scoring on Monday Night Football against the Broncos.

He also spent a whole game mic'd up, which was genuinely entertaining.

Peters similarly just ripped the ball right out of Kelvin Benjamin's hands, though he didn't return this one for a touchdown.

Most importantly, he's got a competitive attitude.

The Ravens needed reinforcements in their secondary, and Peters and his highlight-reel plays are on the way to help.

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