It wasn’t long ago when Lamar Jackson was shushing reporters who asked about his streak of not throwing an interception. He didn’t want to be jinxed.
Entering Week 4 against the Browns, Jackson hadn’t tossed one in 221 straight regular-season passes – the longest streak in the NFL and best mark in franchise history.
According to ESPN, he had the lowest interception rate in NFL history (1.1 percent) among quarterbacks with at least 250 attempts.
Well, if you’re the superstitious type, then the jinx was definitely on, because Jackson has thrown five interceptions over his past two games, including three last Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Lamar’s three interceptions last week matched his total from his previous 10 regular-season starts.
“It’s all your fault, because you all asked me about these interceptions,” Jackson half-jokingly said Sunday in Pittsburgh. “We aren’t talking about turnovers anymore.”
Well, Jackson got asked about them again Wednesday, but this time about what he plans to do to stop them.
“Just don’t have any turnovers,” Jackson simply said.
“One I could have helped, one I thought was PI, the other I thought was on the ground. But I need to do a better job of placing the balls where my receivers can get them, and we won’t have any conflicts or results with the other defenses catching interceptions.”
There is a solid case to be made that some of the interceptions aren’t Jackson’s fault.
In Pittsburgh, one pass to Mark Andrews should have been wiped out by pass interference when the defender grabbed his jersey and turned him. Another, originally caught by tight end Nick Boyle then taken away by linebacker Devin Bush, also should have been called back after replay because Bush didn’t secure the catch.
A third, just before halftime, was a mistaken read by Jackson. He tried to throw outside to the sideline, but the Steelers masked their coverage and the underneath cornerback fell off his man to undercut the throw.
Jackson is his own toughest critic, but he didn’t collapse in raucous Heinz Field after the turnovers.
“Move on. I can’t get them back,” Jackson said. “It’s a stat line that I don’t want to have. I just have to move on and try to score a touchdown on the next drive.”
Jackson seemed to be mostly kicking himself about the sacks he took and the potential game-winning touchdown he missed at the end of regulation.
Jackson’s sacks have piled up each game. He took one sack in Miami, two against Arizona, three in Kansas City, four from Cleveland and five in Pittsburgh. The Steelers had the dynamic runner darting around in the pocket at times, and Jackson even seemed to run into a couple sacks he didn’t need to.
“The defensive lines do great jobs of doing whatever their stunt is, trying to keep me in the pocket,” Jackson said. “I just have to do a better job of getting out. Not trying to set sack records for our offensive line.”
Jackson had a chance to put the knife in the Steelers with the Ravens trailing by three points and just 20 seconds left in regulation. Baltimore was on the 30-yard line when wide receiver Seth Roberts got behind cornerback Steve Nelson, but Jackson overthrew him in the end zone.
“I told Coach [John Harbaugh], ‘If I hit that, that’s a walk-off,’” Jackson said. “I was ticked off. I just have to get out here in practice and work on stuff like that, because you know situations in the game like that, you have to execute. You might not get a second chance all the time.”