Lamar Jackson has carried the Ravens countless times, and more than ever this season with a roster ravaged by injuries. But after Sunday's 16-10 win over the Cleveland Browns, Jackson was thanking his defense for bailing him out.
Jackson threw a career-high four interceptions to the Browns, including a pick on three straight drives at the end of the first half.
It's extremely rare for a team to be able to win despite four turnovers, but the Ravens were able to pull off another nail-biter on "Sunday Night Football" despite their star quarterback's tough night.
"I'm ticked off, but I told all those [defensive] guys, 'Man, way to have my back. Way to have my back, because y'all deserved that. You played lights out,'" Jackson said.
"Just watch film and critique myself like I always do. I'm hot, though. I threw four interceptions, three in the first half. I feel like those drives, when the interceptions came, we could've done something on those drives. We could've put points on the board. I just told my team, 'That's me. I owe y'all.'"
Jackson had only once thrown three interceptions in a game (2019 at Pittsburgh in another win, 26-23). The last time he threw four picks was in his final college game at Louisville.
The Ravens offense got off to a decent start Sunday, stringing together nine- and 17-play drives on their second and third possessions, but both ended with field goals.
Rookie outside linebacker Odafe Oweh got the ball back with a sack-strip of wide receiver Jarvis Landry, only to have Jackson gave it back two plays later. Jackson's pass was tipped by linebacker Malcolm Smith and caught by cornerback Denzel Ward as Jackson tried to rifle a throw into traffic for Mark Andrews.
The Ravens defense held the Browns to a field goal, preserving a 6-3 lead, but Jackson threw a second pick on his next offensive snap. Jackson again tried to fire a pass to Andrews between two defenders, but safety Grant Delpit stepped in front.
The third interception also came on a pass intended for Andrews, as Jackson seemed to throw it to the inside of Andrews, who was turning outside. Safety Ronnie Harrison Jr. dove in front for the pick with under 30 seconds left in the first half.
Jackson threw his hands in the air with frustration and disbelief. Never had he had a string of plays like that. But as the Ravens went to halftime, Andrews said the message was to "just keep on going."
"Just move on. It'll still be on my mind, because I'll still be talking about it, but you have to move on – move on to the next job," Jackson said. "When you get another opportunity, just go out there and try to be right there."
"Calm, cool and collected – that's who he is at all times," Andrews said of Jackson. "He's someone that's never going to get too down or high. He's someone that you can look to, look at in the huddle, and it's like, 'Let's go, let's ride. We're about to go drive this ball.'"
Despite three interceptions on throws to Andrews, Jackson kept going to him. He rolled to his right and heaved a pass deep to Andrews, who made a one-handed catch with a defender interfering for a 39-yard gain.
That set up another improbable play, a 13-yard touchdown in which the ball traveled more than 35 yards as Jackson faded from a Cover-0 blitz and found Andrews wide open in the end zone.
Jackson said Ward took away his initial read of Devin Duvernay, so he had to keep fading. Then Browns pass rusher Myles Garrett was in his face and hit his arm as he threw. After the play, Garrett dapped up Jackson as he came off the field. Jadeveon Clowney, meanwhile, slammed his helmet in frustration.
"[Garrett] didn't really say nothing, he just shook his head," Jackson said. "He was just giving me props on the play, that's all."
Jackson still had one more interception on a deep pass for Andrews that he underthrew. That could have been a fourth-quarter kill shot the way the defense was playing.
Asked if there was a common theme to his interceptions, Jackson shook it off.
"I mean, it's one game that it happened," he said. "They just made great plays on those interceptions. It wasn't like I was throwing it right to them; they were making diving interceptions. One of them I underthrew Mark. That could have been a better ball, for sure. They just made great plays."
The Ravens quarterback did just enough with his legs (team-high 68 yards on 17 runs) and arm to get the job done and the defense did the rest.
"I think it's pretty obvious that he's done some special things, won us a lot of games, sometimes, almost by himself," cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. "But if you look at the Top 5 quarterbacks in the league, no one has a great game every time. So, for us to pick him up, it was special."