Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is balling out in his second year in John Harbaugh’s offense, and it’s fun as hell to watch. Jackson is currently an MVP candidate, is proving he’s better than Michael Vick was, and is making the Ravens must-watch TV each and every week.
The 30-16 win against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 7 was no exception. Jackson threw for 143 yards, and added another 116 along with a touchdown on the ground. It was also his second straight 100+ rushing yard game, and the third one he’s had this season.
One of Jackson’s best plays of the day came in the third quarter. With the game tied at 13, the Ravens made it to the Seattle 8-yard line and were looking at a fourth-and-2.
Instead of kicking an easy field goal with the ever reliable Justin Tucker, the Ravens went for it. And the best part is that it was all Jackson’s doing — he convinced Harbaugh the offense should go for it during a timeout:
Harbaugh: Do you want to go for that?
Jackson: Hell yeah, coach let’s go for it! Do you wanna go for it? Let’s go!
I love how amped up Jackson is, like a dang kid playing in the street. Jackson’s energy both on this play and in general seems to be having an infectious result on Harbaugh and the team, too.
“[13-yard veteran and longtime Ravens offensive tackle] Marshal [Yanda] said ‘If he wants to go for it, I want to go for it!’” Harbaugh said. “I felt the same way — if he wants to go for it, I want to go for it too.”
The decision paid off. Jackson ran it in for a touchdown to give his team a 20-13 lead, and the Ravens never looked back. Here’s a better angle of that play:
“I told him we were going for it,” Jackson said after the game via Penn Live. “Instead of bringing Tuck in, I’m like, ‘Bro, not this time. We’re not kicking no field goal because if [Seahawks quarterback] Russell Wilson gets the ball again and we didn’t score, it might look ugly. So, I’m like we got to score now.’”
The Ravens absolutely made the right call here. When Jackson keeps the ball on the ground on fourth down, the Ravens have been successful. This season, Baltimore has gone 3-for-3 when Jackson runs the ball. Throwing the ball, he’s just 2-for-5 on fourth downs. Seattle’s defense couldn’t stop Jackson on the run all game, either. He averaged 8.3 yards per carry on 14 rushes.
As for the actual playcall, the Ravens call it “QB-power” — essentially Baltimore pulls three linemen to the right, with Bradley Bozeman (No. 77) blocks in front of Jackson to create a hole on the inside:
After the game, Harbaugh explained why he went with the playcall on fourth down, and added that it was something offensive coordinator Greg Roman was hoping to run:
“Roman had been kind of been fighting for that play. He thought that play would be there, the QB power, as you said.”
“During the week I said [to Roman] ‘Well make sure, this is Lamar running inside,”’ Harbaugh continued. “And he goes ‘only in a critical situation, only when we need it the most.’”
"If he wants to go for it, I want to go for it too!" pic.twitter.com/FHm1EMj1Sv— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) October 21, 2019
The Ravens did need it most then and there, and the trust in Jackson worked out perfectly.
It doesn’t seem like it, but it was less than a year ago when Harbaugh benched longtime starter Joe Flacco for Jackson. The decision, like this one on fourth down, was a smart one — Baltimore went 6-2 with Jackson as the starter, clinching a wild card playoff berth in the process. This season, the Ravens are just as hot, sitting at first place in the AFC North at 5-2.
The 22-year-old quarterback’s impact is being felt in more than just box score, too.
“I feel great!” Harbaugh told NFL.com’s Michael Silver after the game. “I feel really good. These are the kind of games that make this league fun.”
Jackson, with his electrifying style of play, has given life to this Ravens team, and to the NFL. And I can’t wait to see what he pulls off next.