Look out Michael Vick. This may be the best run by a quarterback of all-time.
Lamar Jackson is a highlight-reel artist, and he crafted a masterpiece Sunday in Cincinnati.
Jackson’s 47-yard touchdown run featured a spin move that left several Bengals defenders tumbling to the ground in Jackson’s wake. Just watch for yourself.
Now compare that play to Vick’s most famous run. Which wins?
Head Coach John Harbaugh has seen a lot of Jackson highlights over the past year that he’s been Baltimore’s starting quarterback, but even he said that one surprised him.
“I don’t see how anybody could sit there and say they anticipated that run there,” Harbaugh said. “They’ll be watching that run for decades and decades. … That’s rare. That was special.”
Jackson made Bengals safety Jessie Bates III look like he was frozen. Then, with two defenders closing in, he spun to his right and left linebacker Nick Vigil tumbling to the turf and into his own man. From there, his only concern was his own man – running back Mark Ingram II – taking him out.
“I looked to my right and was like, ‘I just can’t let him trip me,’” Jackson said. “I’m locked in. It’s like a box. All I see is the end zone.”
When asked about practicing that move, Jackson said, “What move?”
Jackson said he actually did the spin move in practice this week … during a walk-through. He said defenders always complain that he’s moving too fast during walk-throughs.
“But when I did it in the walk-through, I would’ve gotten hit,” Jackson said. “It was Earl [Thomas III] coming down.”
Jackson’s run was the exclamation point, but shouldn’t overshadow his historic day as a thrower. He finished the day after three quarters with 15 completions on 17 attempts for 223 yards and three touchdowns.
Jackson became just the second player in NFL history to produce a perfect passer rating (158.3) twice in the same season. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also did it in 2007. Jackson did it in Week 1 in Miami as well.
“They were determined to stop certain things and he was able to hurt them in the passing game as much as anything,” Harbaugh said. “Big plays in the passing game.”
After gashing the Bengals as a runner (19 carries and a career-high 152 yards) on the edges about a month ago, Jackson came out slinging the ball Sunday. So much for being able to stop Jackson when facing him for a second time.
On the first play of the game, Jackson hit rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown in stride for a 49-yard bomb down the middle of the field. He said his first read was to tight end Mark Andrews, but Bates had that covered so Jackson went over the top to Brown. Perfect read, perfect throw.
Jackson then hit Andrews for 19 yards, Hayden Hurst for six yards, ran for a loss of yardage, then just threw it in anyway on a 2-yard strike to Andrews.
Jackson’s first incomplete pass was a spike of the ball at the end of the first half. He threw just one more incompletion on a throw to the end zone intended for Andrews, in which the tight end nearly made a one-handed grab.
Jackson drove the ball into tight spaces from the pocket, hit his receivers in stride as he scrambled. He threw sidearm and even underhand to complete passes. He could hardly miss.
Asked what he’s done to improve his accuracy so much as a passer, Jackson said he’s just working hard. He went over and over it this offseason, and continues that work every day in practice. Mostly, he said it’s a wider base.
“I’m a quarterback at the end of the day and I want to prove that each and every day,” Jackson said. “If I don’t complete a pass in practice, I’m ticked off.”
Jackson was playing just across a bridge from Louisville, where he won the Heisman Trophy and first captured the nation’s attention. He had a career completion percentage of 57 percent in three college seasons. After Sunday’s performance, he’s at 65.8 percent this year.
There were a lot of red Louisville No. 8 jerseys in the stands at Paul Brown Stadium. They got to see a more polished passer, but one who can still rip off a highlight-reel run at any time. And when Jackson came off the field, there were – once again – MVP chants in the stands.
“I was glad to be back [near Louisville]. Put on a show,” Jackson said.
“The Super Bowl is on my mind. We’re going to take it one game at a time. If the MVP comes, it comes. But that’s not my goal.”