Lamar Jackson's Desire to Win Is 'Contagious'

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Drake gave Lamar Jackson a birthday shout-out. Al Pacino said he's inspiring.

Other than a few holdouts, just about every sports pundit on the planet is singing Jackson's praises.

Jackson's reaction? To borrow his own word, it's dope.

But as the buzz has turned to a din around Jackson this year, the Ravens quarterback has kept a singular vision on one mission: winning all the way through the Super Bowl.

Jackson has often accomplished his mission. As a starter, he has a 20-3 record. The biggest blemish on his resume is his postseason record: 0-1.

Heading into the Ravens' playoff opener Saturday night in the divisional round, Jackson is itching to get redemption for last year's early playoff exit. And it seems there's nothing that can interfere with that vision – including the Tennessee Titans.

"I'm bringing a Super Bowl here. That's my goal," Jackson said this week. "I've been wanting a Super Bowl ever since I was a kid. That's why I play the game, because I want to win."

Jackson's approach this week has been the same as always. While he realizes he's now in a win-or-go-home situation, he's still laughing, having a good time with teammates as he prepares for the Titans.

"Same as we always see – just really diligent, energy, working his way through things like you expect him to and hope he does," Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said. "He comes to work every day with a great attitude, lots of energy, and he's a great leader for us and a lot of fun to coach."

Jackson's leadership has been a marvel to watch this season. He celebrates his teammates' individual accomplishments more than his own. Jackson hardly had a reaction when he broke the single-season quarterback rushing record of his idol, Michael Vick.

"Congrats boy. Love you, dawg," Ingram said when Jackson got back to the huddle.

"I love you too," Jackson quickly responded before going on to the next play call.

Jackson had a way bigger reaction when he found out Ingram, who has been one of Jackson's biggest cheerleaders, broke 1,000 rushing yards this season.

It's part of the reason why not one single Ravens player has grown tired of talking about their quarterback – despite the zillion questions they're asked about him.

They see the way Jackson works, the way he keeps his head down despite all the attention. And above all else, they see his desire to win, and it makes them approach the game the same way. It's flu season, and Jackson caught the bug during the Ravens' bye week. But what's going around the Ravens' locker room is Jackson's temperament.

"It's infectious, man. I haven't seen anyone that's so hell bent on winning. It's all he cares about," tight end Mark Andrews said.

"When he says the only thing he cares about is winning a Super Bowl, he means that. He's been saying that since Day 1, and that's rubbed off on everyone in this locker room, everyone in this facility and everyone in this organization and in this city. So, it's been so much fun being around the guy that has that type of 'it' factor about him."

After the regular-season finale, outside linebacker Matthew Judon said he was going to "ride Lamar's coattails to the Super Bowl." It was partly in jest, but kind of not. The Ravens are rallying behind the soon-to-be MVP.

Jackson downplayed that notion, saying, "We all want to be great. We all want to win." That's certainly true, but Jackson has taken that to another level across the roster. Making plays every week has inspired his teammates to do the same, or at least do their best to set the table for Jackson.

There's something powerful about knowing you have the league's best player on your side.

"They talk about contagious players. He definitely is [one]," said veteran guard Marshal Yanda, who doesn't dish out praise easily – especially to players in just their second season.

"If you have guys playing at that level, you get other guys that want to try to get on that level as much as they can. So you get that extra two, three percent, even if it's one percent out of each guy, and then you compound that with 53 guys. It does make a difference, for sure, and I believe our entire team has done that. Everybody wants to play. There's something extra to play for."

Tight end Nick Boyle and other Ravens players still harken back to when Jackson, in the minutes after being drafted by the Ravens, told the world that he was going to bring Baltimore a Super Bowl.

"It's cool how he said that, and now we're playing for that," Boyle said. "His confidence trickles down to everyone else. He's our leader on the offense. He's been everything to us."

Yanda said he expected Jackson to have some growing pains in his second season and first as the Ravens' full-time starter. But he hasn't seen any lag the entire year. Jackson has only been ascending.

Yanda gets bothered by young players who "haven't done enough and think they're going to showboat." The gritty 13-year guard and eight-time Pro Bowler said he's only seen Jackson let his play on the field speak for itself. Jackson is boisterous on the field and prone to a dance from time to time, but only because he's having so much fun with his teammates.

"It's been impressive to watch and be a part of it," Yanda said. "Credit to him and him staying humble and staying hard-working. That's the type of guy he is. He's not taking his foot off the gas."

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