Lamar Jackson: Baltimore Ravens quarterback takes major MVP stride
By Cameron Hogwood
Last Updated: 27/11/19 1:31pm
"We got our faces peeled off," a shell-shocked Eric Weddle told the media after the LA Rams became the latest team to feel the heat of the Baltimore Ravens and the red-hot Lamar Jackson.
The second-year quarterback boosted his case for MVP on Monday with yet another devastating display through the air and on the ground in the Ravens' 45-6 road win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Weddle, the experienced Rams safety, had just joined an ever-increasing band of defensive players to endure the full Lamar Jackson experience.
In one of the most explosive Monday Night Football debuts in recent NFL history, Jackson shredded and tormented a Rams defense considered among the league's best.
Five touchdown passes and 95 rushing yards in the Ravens' seventh successive victory were greeted by chants of 'MVP' as one of the sport's enthralling talents again flexed his considerable skills. Jackson's work was complete by the fourth quarter, with Robert Griffin III coming into the game with over 14 minutes remaining on the clock.
Much like teams before them, last season's beaten Super Bowl contenders had no answer to the dual-threat quarterback wreaking havoc under center.
"What they're doing on offense, a lot of times I wouldn't know for a few seconds after they snapped it, if he (Jackson) handed it or he still had it," Weddle added.
The eye-opening stats and the unrivalled highlights reel are glossed by the professionalism and grounded nature of a 22-year-old dedicated to team glory, not individual honours.
Responding to MVP shouts around the Coliseum, Jackson said: "It's OK. I'm trying to win a Super Bowl. We're taking it a game at a time.
"I'm not worried about MVP. If it comes it comes, I'll be satisfied but I'm trying to win a Super Bowl. That's a team award, that's what I want."
A man who was taken No 32 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft as the fifth first-round quarterback could have been forgiven for singing his own praises on such a memorable night. And yet Jackson refused to let the efforts of those around him go unnoticed.
"There were grown men out there trying to feed their family," he said on ESPN.
"Coach did a great job calling the schemes, the offensive line did a tremendous job against a great pass rush, receivers caught the ball, tight ends caught the ball, the running backs did what they're supposed to do. Everybody just clicked."
In leading the Ravens to their ninth win of the season the Heisman Trophy winner became the first player to register 3000 passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards across his first two seasons, as well as the first to produce 50 rushing yards and four passing touchdowns in back-to-back games.
A mammoth display warranted the appreciation of Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who could only stop and admire Jackson as he continued to add his name to the record books.
"He's a hell of a player, and I wish him the best," he told ESPN.
"I think he's really proving a lot of people wrong, and you always love to see that."
Jackson's efforts lifted him to 2,427 passing yards for a joint-first 24 passing touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 111.4. He also leads quarterbacks in rushing figures with 876 yards and six touchdowns, averaging a league-high 7.1 yards per carry.
"There's a reason why people are talking about him as an MVP. I felt it tonight."
Rams head coach Sean McVay on Lamar Jackson
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Russell Wilson, widely-deemed Jackson's closest MVP rival, meanwhile has 2,937 passing yards for 24 touchdowns and a rating of 112.1, along with 271 rushing yards for three touchdowns. Kyler Murray is the closest quarterback to Jackson's yards on the ground with 418 from 67 carries in his rookie year with the Arizona Cardinals.
"That's just operating at the highest level you can operate as a quarterback," said Ravens head coach Harbaugh after Monday's game.
You need only listen to the thoughts of Jackson's Ravens teammates to recognise not only how influential he has been, but how popular he is in the locker room.
"I would do anything for that guy," Ravens offensive guard Patrick Mekari told the media post-game.
Repeating last week's message, running back Mark Ingram said: "Come see me. LJ. MVP. If you've got a problem, come see me."
The swarm of doubts that met Jackson upon his arrival in the NFL have long-been diminished.
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