During his young career, Lamar Jackson has made a habit of providing memorable moments. He added a few more highlights to his list during Baltimore's 31-17 victory over Washington on Sunday.
Jackson didn't dominate from start to finish as he has done frequently, and he threw his first interception of the season. However, the game-changing plays that Jackson made were crucial to the Ravens' win.
Jackson's signature highlight was a 50-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that gave Baltimore a 14-0 lead. Many quarterbacks don't run for 50 yards in a month, and it was the longest touchdown run by an NFL quarterback since an 87-yard run by Marcus Mariota in 2015.
It's the kind of play that makes Jackson special, the ability to score from anywhere on the field at any time. He reached 20.1 miles per hour on the run, which was the fastest speed he's ever hit on a touchdown run, per Next Gen Stats.
Whenever Jackson gets the ball, magic can happen.
On the touchdown run, Jackson faked a handoff to J.K. Dobbins, then tucked it and ran. He got a block from pulling left guard Bradley Bozeman, but most of this was Jackson displaying his speed and vision and outrunning the defense.
Hard-hitting Washington safety Landon Collins had a chance to tackle Jackson in the secondary, but Jackson gave the Pro Bowler a quick stiff arm and ran through the tackle attempt easily. Jackson's ability to break tackles is sometimes underrated, but he gets on top of defenders so quickly, they don't have time to set their feet.
Perhaps the only mistake Jackson made on his touchdown run was a slightly premature celebration. He held the ball aloft around the 10-yard line, knowing that nobody was going to catch him from behind. However, Jackson apparently didn't see Washington cornerback Ronald Darby closing in from the right. Jackson re-tucked the ball and hit the jets to elude Darby at the goal line. But Jackson said he was cautioned by Head Coach John Harbaugh about celebrating too early.
"He definitely did," Jackson said. "You watch plays of the week, and nine times out of 10, it's plays that should not do. I was almost on one of those plays. That's basically what he was telling me on the sideline."
Finishing 14 for 21 with 193 yards and two touchdowns, along with 53 yards rushing, Jackson reached 5,000 career yards passing and 2,000 career yards rushing faster than any player in NFL history. But if it's not winning a Super Bowl, career milestones don't excite Jackson the way he excites fans.
"Probably in the long run, but I'm focused on winning a championship," Jackson said. "We still have bigger fish to fry right now. Those type things, I'll cherish those later."
Despite being last year's MVP, Jackson's progression as a quarterback is ongoing at age 23. There were plenty of positives to take away from his 25-yard touchdown pass to Mark Andrews, a play on which Jackson stayed calm and improvised. After being flushed out of the pocket to his left, Jackson kept his eyes downfield and spotted Andrews running to the left pylon. With a flick of the wrist, Jackson threw an accurate pass to Andrews who caught it in stride to give Baltimore a 21-7 lead.
"I had to get out of the pocket a little and Mark did a great job of running with me," Jackson said. "I gave him a playable ball and he made a great catch."
While Jackson was pleased with the victory, he was not happy to throw his first pick. He had gone 160 attempts since throwing his last regular-season interception, dating back to the 2019 season. The pass was intended for Miles Boykin and Jackson, who hates turnovers, took the blame. He was also unhappy that he overthrew Marquise "Hollywood" Brown on two deep routes when Brown had a step on his defender.
"I could have tried to hold onto it a little longer, give him (Boykin) a ball he could turn around and catch," Jackson said. "A couple of passes to Marquise, we shouldn't have been coming off the field without a touchdown."
The Washington offense put up more yards and first downs than Baltimore's offense. There were four Ravens drives (one by backup Robert Griffin III) that had three or fewer plays. The Ravens had the NFL's top-scoring offense last year, but they struggled Monday night against Kansas City and had some blips in Washington. They aren't firing on all cylinders yet.
"Defenses play us a lot differently," Jackson said. "We watch film on them. We study teams. When we go out there, it's a totally different ball game," Jackson said. "We're still pushing. It's still early in the season. We just have to keep pushing, keep grinding, keep playing Ravens ball.
However, the Ravens will take everything that Jackson brings to the table, knowing his playmaking can overcome some bumps in the road. Near the end of Sunday's game with the outcome decided, Griffin took over at quarterback, and Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey took a seat on the bench near Jackson and enjoyed the moment. Jackson, however, wasn't overly happy.
"You can never really doubt him," Humphrey said. "It's always great to be able to sit down on the bench next to Lamar. That usually means we're up. He was like, 'Man, we have to do a lot better,' and I looked up at the score, and I was like, 'I think we scored a decent amount of points.' His humility is just amazing, He could put up 40 and still say, 'Man, we didn't execute on third down.' Having a guy like that on your team is always great."