For one play, the entire Ravens backfield was exclusively Heisman Trophy winners.
Lined up behind center out of the shotgun formation was Lamar Jackson, the current MVP candidate who’d won college football’s top individual award in 2016. To his left was tailback Mark Ingram, who’d won it in 2009. To his right, doing his best to confuse the Bengals’ overwhelmed defense, was backup quarterback Robert Griffin III, the 2011 winner. It’s a lineup the Ravens’ staff calls, uh, the Heisman Package, and it came from RG3’s in-practice suggestion.
That left Cincinnati to clamp down on three different players who’ve each had 130+ rushing yards in a single game in their NFL careers. And, as expected, the Bengals struggled to keep pace.
The more you can do @RGIII picks up the first❗️ pic.twitter.com/w5OWLvoSab— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 10, 2019
Jackson took a designed keeper to the right, got roughly four yards past the line of scrimmage, then turned the play into an old-school college throwback with an option pass to Griffin. Griffin picked up where his starting QB left off and sprinted to the sideline for eight more yards — all in all, a gain of 12 that pushed the Ravens into enemy territory. Three plays later, Jackson would cap the drive with a 17-yard touchdown strike to Mark Andrews that made the score 21-3 and effectively squashed the Bengals chances of earning their first win of the season.
As cool as the play was, it was ultimately a 12-yard gain against the league’s worst team. Still, it’s endemic of what makes the Ravens so damn hard to stop. An option-heavy running game with Griffin in the backfield probably isn’t here to stay, but it’s another weapon Jackson and head coach John Harbaugh can break out to keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night. Just stopping Jackson, who’s simultaneously an upper-crust quarterback and running back, is hard enough:
Lamar Jackson has more passing yards than Jimmy Garoppolo— Baltimore Beatdown (@BmoreBeatdown) November 10, 2019
Lamar Jackson has more passing touchdowns than Jared Goff
Lamar Jackson has more rushing yards than Phillip Lindsay
Lamar Jackson has more rushing touchdowns than James Conner
Now opponents have to worry about Jackson tapping in to two of college football’s most decorated runners to extend plays and stretch their defenses further. While the inventive triple-Heisman option was the most interesting development from the opening stages of a budding blowout, it was also a testimony to Jackson’s aerial prowess. He needed only 21 minutes to rack up a full game’s worth of passing stats (171 yards, two touchdowns before the clock hit 9:30 in the second quarter).
And, on the ground, he did this:
LAMAR. JACKSON. @Lj_Era8 TO THE HOUSE ‼️‼️— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 10, 2019
Baltimore turned its showdown against a minor-league Cincinnati operation into an opportunity to try some new things and bring some plays that had never left the practice field to life. While the Bengals kept Jackson from gashing them on the ground — at least early on — he used that running threat to boost the rest of his offense. That included the two Heisman winners who can flank him on either side.