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.
Per Pro Football Reference's Play Index, Lamar Jackson is the first player in NFL history to throw for at least 270 yards and rush for at least 120 in the same game.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) September 15, 2019
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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