Lamar Jackson will have to get his redemption another day.
The second-year quarterback fell short again in Arrowhead Stadium – the site of his only regular-season losses.
After back-to-back record-setting games to open the season, Jackson had a tougher day throwing the ball in Sunday’s 33-28 loss to the Chiefs. He finished 22-of-43 for 267 yards and was held without a touchdown pass. He didn’t throw an interception either, though, and finished with a quarterback rating of 70.6.
But the second-year quarterback still showed another encouraging trait Sunday. He is never going to quit, and neither are his teammates.
Just step back and realize that the Ravens had a lot of things go against them and still lost by just five points on the road against one of the best teams in the NFL. The Ravens aren’t into consolation prizes, but it’s a loss that they can build from.
“I thought our guys fought like crazy,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said in his post game press conference. “I’m always proud of the way they fight and play hard. We get a little bit better, we win games like this.”
Jackson’s accuracy was a bit off early in the game as he barely missed long vertical shots to Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews in the end zone. His passes were a bit too high and a step too deep, though Jackson said there was no overarching reason.
“Just throw a better ball,” Jackson said.
The offensive line gave him good protection early on as the Chiefs defense dropped into coverage, respecting Jackson’s passing threat. On numerous occasions, Jackson bought time in the backfield as he looked downfield trying to make something happen. But often it didn’t lead to big plays.
“I had a lot of throws I should have made – deep balls,” Jackson said. “Marquise had them, Miles Boykin had them. Complete those and we have more time.
“They were doing a lot of roll coverage, leaving a safety in the middle of the field, trying to cover up the middle. We have to do a better job executing. I feel like that’s my job.”
The Ravens trailed, 23-6, at halftime and were trailing by 17 points again late in the third quarter. But Jackson and the entire team kept clawing back into it.
Tight end Mark Andrews said Jackson was encouraging his teammates at halftime, reminding them that everything was still in front of them and that they were close to hitting on some big plays.
Much of the change after halftime was the dominance of Mark Ingram II and the Ravens’ run game. Ingram wasn’t stopped all day and finished with 103 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries.
“Man, we believe in ourselves,” Ingram said. “We have a whole bunch of guys on this team that don’t quit. We have fighters, guys with a chip on their shoulder. We put ourselves in a hole and we believed we’d get ourselves out of that hole.”
With the Ravens’ back against the wall, Jackson took some chances and made some highlight-reel plays with his backyard style of play.
He was fortunate on one when he ran right and heaved the ball all the way across the field to wide receiver Willie Snead IV, who leapt with a defender to tip the ball and catch it as he fell to the turf.
“Me and Lamar made eye contact and he threw it and trusted me,” Snead said. “We needed that play. It was a third down. I just have to go up and make a play. That will definitely go on my top-five list.”
Jackson also completed a long pass to wide receiver Seth Roberts with a Chiefs defender hanging onto his legs. Jackson stood in and lobbed a pass to give his wide receiver a chance and Roberts came back to make a play. Ingram punched in a touchdown from there.
Jackson’s 9-yard touchdown run that pulled the Ravens to within five points will be on highlight-reels all week. He stepped up in the pocket and outran a defensive lineman to the corner, then sidestepped one tackler trying to take out his legs and spun away from another on the goal line.
The Ravens came up short in the end, but as they licked their wounds in the locker room and boarded the plan home for Baltimore, they know there’s a lot more games to play. The Browns come to M&T Bank Stadium next Sunday for a big early-season divisional game.
“There’s no question in my mind that we can still accomplish our goals. We can still get right to where we want to get to. The fight, it’s within us. We’re never going to give up,” safety Earl Thomas said.
“The way Mark ran that ball today, man, that really got us going. Especially when they got it going with he and Gus [Edwards]. Lamar juking everybody and scoring and showing everybody how great he is.”
Thomas was so confident in what he saw from the team in Arrowhead Stadium that he made a prediction. The Ravens will be in the playoffs, and they’ll see red again.
“We’re going to see them again,” Thomas said. “When we see them down the line, we’re going to have it.”