Lamar Jackson has been locked in this season, a great player coping with any circumstances that surround him.
When the Ravens suffered another injury at left tackle Sunday, Jackson wasn't fazed. When he threw an interception in the second quarter, he wasn't frustrated.
In the end, Jackson prevailed with another signature performance that will keep him in the early conversation for MVP.
Accounting for five touchdowns and rushing for over 100 yards (107) for the second straight week, Jackson completed 18 of 29 passes for 218 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another touchdown, leading Baltimore to a 37-26 victory over the Patriots.
Jackson became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era with three or more passing touchdowns and 100-plus rushing yards in consecutive games. After the game, Head Coach John Harbaugh gave Jackson a game ball for "taking the game on his shoulders."
Through three games in 2022, Jackson has played at a consistently high level with poise that has seemed almost unshakeable. His teammates feel it and Harbaugh sees it. To Harbaugh, anyone who can't see that Jackson is a special player isn't watching,
"No one has to tell me about Lamar Jackson," Harbaugh said. "I believe in him. I love him. I just believed him the first day we drafted him, the first day we talked about drafting him. Felt like he could be everything he is.
"I just think it's a natural next step in terms of like finding his rhythm during the week, what he's looking at, how he studies defenses, how he breaks defenses down. It's not a lightbulb thing, it's an evolution of studying the game that you see quarterbacks go through."
Like all Ravens opponents, the Patriots spent game week trying to do whatever they could to contain Jackson, and they sacked him four times and forced him to throw under duress numerous times. But Jackson didn't panic, even after starting left tackle Patrick Mekari left the game early in the first quarter with an ankle injury, forcing the Ravens to turn to their fourth-string left tackle, rookie Daniel Faalele, with Ronnie Stanley (ankle) still out and Ja'Wuan James (Achilles) lost for the season.
Faalele had his hands full with Deatrich Wise, the Patriots' defensive end who had three of their four sacks. However, Jackson's elusiveness helped out Faalele, and Baltimore's franchise quarterback continued to make plays, while giving props to Faalele for battling.
"Faalele is a rookie, so I knew that was kind of (what would) happen to see where he was, but I guess one sack happened after that, and he just started dominating like he did in college," Jackson said. "I didn't doubt him at all. None of us did. Mekari left it out on the field for us, and the linemen said it; we was all dialed in. Shout out to Faalele because he stepped up major."
But Jackson also stepped up. He helped seal the win with a 9-yard touchdown run on the kind of play that separates him from other quarterbacks. Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick tipped his cap to Jackson.
"I don't think there were any new plays. They ran their C gap plays," he said. "Lamar did a good job on keeping some of those, not keeping those, the option choices that he made."
Before that touchdown run, Jackson threw for four touchdowns – two to Mark Andrews, and one to Devin Duvernay and Josh Oliver. Jackson is spreading the ball to different targets and picking apart defenses at a high level.
It's thrilling to watch, unless you're trying to stop it.
"I'm amazed every time," Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell said. "It's a front row seating, watching greatness. I'm glad I don't have to play against him."
"I was watching [Matthew] Judon trying to chase him down," cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. "We all used to be on defense like, 'Dang, I don't want to play against that guy.' … What the guy does day in and day out, I don't think anybody can duplicate it in the league."
This season's journey is still in the early stages, so Jackson is keeping things in perspective. But he believes, like others, that he's growing as player as he gains more experience.
"I'd just say maturity just because of my age, just knowing the game of football, just basically inside out," Jackson said. "You've just got to stay locked in. That's probably the thing, just being locked in no matter what's going on during the game."
Sunday's victory was crucial for the Ravens (2-1), getting them back on the right track before they host Buffalo (2-1) in Week 4. The work Jackson put into his game this offseason is showing, and Harbaugh loves what he sees.
"He's still a young quarterback," Harbaugh said. "You watch him play, does it look like he understands what he's going up against and what he's dealing with out there? That's the result of that process. It's really impressive."