Colin Cowherd: Lamar Jackson Has Earned the Right to Win Ugly, Was Great When It Mattered
The Ravens have often been the definition of winning ugly throughout the franchise's storied history, but since Lamar Jackson became their starting quarterback, the Ravens typically win with flair.
To steal a phrase from legendary pro wrestler Ric Flair, Jackson has had the Ravens stylin' and profilin.'
However, even a player as electrifying as Jackson is going to have an occasional game that's not up to his usual standard. Such was the case in Sunday night's 19-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. It was more gritty than pretty — and that's OK.
Jackson overthrew three passes: two possible touchdowns and one that was intercepted and flipped the game's early momentum. But he also led the Ravens' game-winning drive to put Justin Tucker in field-goal range.
"Even when Jackson isn't having his best night, he's still a winner," our Ryan Mink wrote. "Jackson doesn't have a 40-14 record by mistake. It's because, with the game on the line, he can simply be the best player on the field."
Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd said Jackson's detractors need to give him props for finding a way to win instead of focusing on any miscues he made during the game.
"Lamar Jackson gives you so much more good than bad. And that last drive of the game, Baltimore won for one reason: Lamar Jackson and his feet," Cowherd said. "Yes, he missed on a couple of big throws up the sideline, but in the biggest moment, they handed the ball to Lamar Jackson and he won.
"Lamar is the only quarterback in the National Football League that is not allowed to win ugly. … Even when Lamar Jackson wins, if he missed an open guy [it's] 'I told you he can't throw from the pocket.' Right now Lamar Jackson has 10 touchdown passes from the middle of the pocket. That leads the NFL. He's fine as a thrower. In fact, better than fine. … Just admit it: You have decided he's not good enough for you, and so you're going to find ways to pick at him. He wasn't great last night, but he was great when it mattered. … With a minute left in the game, not many people I like better than Lamar Jackson."
Baltimore Positive’s Luke Jones wrote: "Sunday was a prime example of what makes Lamar Jackson so unique. Like any great quarterback from time to time, he had a rough night throwing the football, but his legs were the difference on the final drive. A traditional pocket passer can't do that on such occasions."
The Ringer’s Steven Ruiz expressed a similar sentiment as he named Jackson his choice for Offensive Player of the Year at the "quarter(ish)" mark of the season.
"Baltimore's win over the Bengals on Sunday night wasn't an MVP showcase for Jackson, who was without top receiver Rashod Bateman, or a particularly efficient night for the Ravens offense. But it was more proof that the unit's success is wholly reliant on the brilliance of its quarterback," Ruiz wrote. … In crunch time, Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman put the ball in Jackson's hands and asked him to win the game. And he did.
"Jackson is averaging nearly 75 yards a game on the ground. His 12 touchdown passes rank second behind only [Buffalo's Josh] Allen. He's on pace to throw for more than 3,000 yards and run for more than 1,000, a feat that has never been achieved in the history of the league, according to Stathead. We have, quite literally, never seen a season like this at the NFL level."
Dan Orlovsky: Greg Roman Had Arguably the Best Play Call of the Season
On a side note, while Jackson deserves credit for executing during the game-winning drive Sunday night, Roman also deserves praise for putting Jackson in position to succeed with his play-calling, ESPN's Dan Orlovsky said.
"Probably one of the best, if not the best, calls from all this weekend that's not getting enough attention is this one from Greg Roman … to basically win the game," Orlovsky said. "To make this play call in this moment is absolutely spectacular and steps ahead of what the defense is going to do."
Roman called quarterback zone power and Jackson ripped off a 19-yard gain as he made a spectacular read on the defensive end and then had blockers already five yards in front of him.
Bleacher Report Says Ravens Could Have 'Easy Road Ahead'
It goes without saying that the Ravens and Head Coach John Harbaugh know better than to underestimate any opponent or look too far ahead, but Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski noted that Baltimore's remaining schedule looks favorable on paper.
"Next week, Harbaugh's crew travels to northern New Jersey to take on the surprising 4-1 New York Giants. Every single one of the Giants' wins have been by one score. New head coach Brian Daboll is working wonders, but his team may not be quite as good as its record indicates," Sobleski wrote. "Two weeks later, the Ravens fly to Tampa and face the Buccaneers. Like Baltimore, Tampa Bay is 3-2, though the Todd Bowles-led roster still features Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Shaquil Barrett and a whole lineup of talented players. The Bucs may not have been as successful out of the gates as expected, but they're still one of the favorites in the NFC. Otherwise, no other team on the schedule has a winning record through five weeks of play."
Sobleski did acknowledge that the schedule could be a bit more challenging than the current records of their remaining opponents seems to indicate.
"A few obstacles could get in the way," Sobleski wrote. "The Jacksonville Jaguars could establish a little bit of consistency by the time the two teams meet in Week 12. [Denver quarterback] Russell Wilson could be his old self by the following week's play. Deshaun Watson will be in his third game back from suspension to make the Browns a more formidable foe.
"But Baltimore still has two games left with the lowly Steelers and another against the Carolina Panthers — two teams that are currently earmarked for the top two picks of next year's draft. Weird outcomes happen every weekend. The Ravens must simply go about their day-to-day and handle their business. If that happens, Baltimore will very much be in the thick of the AFC postseason picture as a Super Bowl contender."
Why Mark Andrews Was Trending This Morning
I was initially perplexed when I saw that Mark Andrews was trending on Twitter this morning. The All-Pro tight end had a good game Sunday night, but that was more than 24 hours ago. I eventually discovered that Andrews was trending because of Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce's four-touchdown performance in Kansas City's 30-29 win over the Las Vegas Raiders last night.
The basic gist of the tweets, most of which I assume were from Chiefs fans, was that Kelce had shut down any talk of Andrews having overtaken him as the top tight end in the league. That's just silly.
Andrews and Kelce are both elite tight ends. Which of the two is the best is up for debate, even after Kelce's performance last night. For the season, Kelce has 33 catches for 347 yards and seven touchdowns, while Andrews has 32 catches for 349 yards and four touchdowns.