Whether Lamar Jackson threw the football or ran it, the Cincinnati Bengals couldn’t contain it.
Finishing with 236 yards in the air and 152 yards rushing, Jackson became the first player in the Super Bowl era to top 200 yards passing and 150 yards rushing in the same game.
It was enough to lift the Ravens to a 23-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, with Jackson setting the tone with a career-high rushing performance.
For Jackson, comparisons to former NFL quarterback Michael Vick are nothing new, and they won’t stop after this game. With 111 yards rushing at halftime, Jackson became just the second quarterback since 1991 to top 100 yards rushing in the first half. Who was the other quarterback who accomplished that? Vick.
As someone who was a fan of Vick’s growing up, Jackson doesn’t mind the comparisons.
“It’s definitely (great) to have a guy you grew up watching all the time, doing all this spectacular stuff, to have my name mentioned with his is pretty cool,” Jackson said.
Jackson (21-for-33 passing) mirrors Vick in his ability to carry an offense with his arm, or his legs. The Bengals (0-6) have struggled to stop the run all season, but it’s usually a running back who does the most damage to them on the ground. On Sunday, it was Jackson.
After Brandon Wilson of the Bengals stunned the M&T Bank Stadium crowd by returning the opening kickoff for a 92-yard touchdown, the Ravens needed someone to turn the momentum back in their favor. Jackson responded.
Preparing for this game, Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman told Jackson the Ravens would use his legs. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray ran for 93 yards and a touchdown against Cincinnati's defense last week.
“We watched film on them, and they gave us the looks,” Jackson said. “If I’ve got to run, I’ve got to do it, and today that’s what it was. I did what it took to get the victory.”
On Baltimore’s opening drive, Jackson moved the Ravens into Cincinnati territory with a 36-yard scamper that displayed his speed and vision.
Good blocking by the Ravens offensive line created a nice hole for Jackson as he ran to his left, but he extended the run with a timely cut to his right after he reached the secondary. Jackson sees the field extremely well as both a thrower and a runner, and his ability to accelerate, change direction, or stop on a dime isn’t the norm for a quarterback, or anyone else. For the Ravens, Jackson’s running ability gives them a weapon that many teams lack at the quarterback position.
“We needed him to run the ball like that to win the game,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “It was a necessity, the way they played us. And he did it. Setting records and things like that, yeah that’s not really something he’s thinking about now. Someday it will mean something to him.”
Four plays after the 36-yard burst, Jackson capped Baltimore’s first scoring drive with a 21-yard touchdown run. Again, this wasn’t the normal run that you see from a quarterback. As he sprinted inside the 10-yard line, Jackson sensed that he could score and was running at full speed. It became a race to the pylon, and Jackson won. He was hit at about the two-yard line by Bengals safety Jessie Bates III, but Jackson lowered his head, absorbed the contact and powered his way to pylon, breaking the plane of the goal line with the ball.
Jackson ended the first half with nine carries for 111 yards, an average of 11 yards per carry. There is nothing average about that. When Vick was in his prime, his ability to run kept opponents awake and brought the crowd out of its seats. Jackson is doing that for the Ravens (4-2), and his special talent took center stage Sunday leading the Ravens to victory.
“He’s amazing, you can’t take that for granted,” Ravens safety Earl Thomas III said. “It’s just something special, man. Definitely glad he’s on our team. Hopefully he can continue to do that. You don’t see that every day.”