Lamar Jackson Happy to Get Chiefs Monkey Off His Back

QB Lamar Jackson

As Lamar Jackson walked off the field following his first win over the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes, Head Coach John Harbaugh intercepted him with a huge hug.

It's hard to make out what Harbaugh yelled into his ear – M&T Bank Stadium was still buzzing and neither man could remember – but there was no mistaking the emotion.

Beating the back-to-back AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs was so big for the Ravens for so many reasons after the pile-up of injuries and brutal overtime Week 1 loss in Las Vegas.

But there's no doubt that, despite how much it was downplayed in the week leading up, it was also huge for Jackson himself. He heard it all week (and longer than that). He was 0-3 against Mahomes and the Chiefs.

"It feels good to get that monkey off our back," Jackson said.

Even if the Ravens hadn't won, Jackson would have stood toe-to-toe with Mahomes, the fellow young, superstar MVP who has four things that Jackson doesn't – a Super Bowl win and three head-to-head victories.

With the whole country watching on "Sunday Night Football," they finished tied, both with 346 total yards and three touchdowns. They just did it in different ways.

Mahomes was spectacular yet again, throwing for 343 yards and three touchdowns. After two first-quarter interceptions, Jackson was just as good, finishing with 239 passing yards and one passing touchdown, and 107 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

"He's incredible, man. That's the guy right there. It's hard to put into words, but he put the team on his shoulders many, many times tonight," tight end Mark Andrews said.

Jackson's night got off to a disastrous start. On his first throw, he overthrew Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, who had gotten behind the Chiefs defense for what could have been a long touchdown. On Jackson's second throw, wide receiver Sammy Watkins slipped and Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu intercepted it and ran 34 yards for a pick-six.

The Ravens ran the ball down the Chiefs' throat for a touchdown on the following drive. Then they moved it back down the field on the next possession, but Jackson forced a ball into triple-coverage and was intercepted, again, by Mathieu.

"I know my team is going to look at me. If I'm out there just messing up, they're going to be like, 'Damn, what are you doing?'" Jackson said. "So, I've got to do it for my guys.

"My guys have my back. The first two interceptions, they were like, 'Man, you're good; you got that out the way. Let's just play.' I was like, 'You're right, I've got to play now. That's over with.' And that's what we did."

Jackson knew that with Mahomes and the quick-strike Chiefs offense on the other side, he had to keep scoring.

The Chiefs took a 28-17 lead on the first drive of the second half when Mahomes connected with Byron Pringle for a 40-yard touchdown. That's a double-digit lead that the doubters have all said Jackson couldn't come back from.

But in just four plays, the Ravens were back in the end zone, this time after a miraculous off-balance jump throw by Jackson to good friend Brown.

"He was poised. He stayed consistent," Brown said. "He's the leader of this team."

Mahomes and his bandits weren't done, as tight end Travis Kelce rumbled past and through several Ravens defenders en route to a 46-yard touchdown to retake the 11-point lead midway through the third quarter.

Jackson answered again, weaving through the Chiefs for a 20-yard run to start a drive near the end of the third quarter. He capped that drive by beating a Kansas City defender to the pylon for a 2-yard touchdown.

The next drive, with the Ravens still trailing by 5, was Jackson at his best. He hit his favorite tight end, Andrews, with a pinpoint throw for 10 yards. He darted up the middle on third-and-5 for 9 yards. Then, on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Jackson and the Ravens' play-call fooled Kansas City so bad that Jackson somersaulted into the end zone.

"I fell on my butt cheek a little bit," he said with a laugh. "I had to get right, because we had another drive in us."

But as soon as Jackson got up and looked at the clock, with more than three minutes left, he knew Mahomes had more than enough time for the go-ahead score. But Odafe Oweh's forced fumble gave Baltimore and Jackson the ball back and there was no way they were going to let it slip through their hands.

On third-and-7 from Baltimore's 37-yard line, the Ravens called a pass for Jackson – a bold call considering an incomplete pass would stop the clock and allow the Chiefs to preserve a timeout before a Ravens punt. But Jackson completed the slant to Watkins for 6 yards.

Then came the even bolder call – going for it on fourth-and-1 with a Jackson run up the middle.

"It says that I have complete confidence in Lamar Jackson to make every play," Harbaugh said. "I'll just never, ever, not have faith in him to make a play in any situation.

"I'm happy for him. We love each other. All of us have each other's backs."

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