Lamar Jackson's Highlight-Reel Run Thrills
Lamar Jackson juked and jumped, electrified and terrified all on one highlight-reel, video game-esque dash during the Ravens' 26-13 preseason victory over the Green Bay Packers last night at M&T Bank Stadium.
Even though Jackson's 18-yard touchdown run doesn't show up in the box score – it was nullified by an illegal blocking penalty – the play had social media buzzing. The second-year quarterback's dazzling display of athleticism undoubtedly left some fans breathless and had others holding their breath.
"Lamar's touchdown run shouldn't be happening in the preseason but shows how electric he's going to be and what he can add to the offense. WOW," Russell Street Report's Aidan Griesser wrote.
Ravens Wire's Matthew Stevens wrote: "It was an impressive display of athleticism that shows just how dangerous a weapon he can be for Baltimore's offense. But for how awesome it was, Ravens fans were collectively holding their breath the entire time."
Penn Live's Aaron Kasinitz also weighed in on Jackson's spectacular scamper.
"It's worth debating whether Jackson was wise to tuck the ball and run in a meaningless game," Kasinitz wrote. "The Ravens want their franchise quarterback healthy to pile up highlights in the regular season, and juke moves like the ones he put on those Packers defenders come with some risk. But regardless of the danger, Ravens coaches and supporters are probably happy to be reminded that their quarterback can leave would-be tacklers in the dust."
The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker wrote: "There's no way to turn off Jackson's improvisational instincts, and the Ravens wouldn't want to if they could."
When Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked about Jackson's run after the game, he said: "He's going to play. He's going to play football. We're not trying to run him. We're not running those plays. He's in the pocket, and he's staying in the pocket a lot. It's not like he's trying to run, but sometimes … What are you going to do? You can't hold him back forever. He looked good on the play. He looked good on a lot of plays."
Here's a sample of what Twitterverse said about the play:
To Harbaugh's point, while Jackson's run was what everyone was talking about, it wasn't the only good thing he did in the game. Jackson followed last week's encouraging performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars with another solid effort.
"Jackson says there's no comparison between his level of play now and where he was at this time last year. He's correct," Walker wrote. "Jackson has kept his attempts fairly simple, and he hasn't faced high-end NFL pressure. But recall the 2018 preseason, when every one of his passes felt like an adventure. That guy, who struggled to maintain a consistent release point or throw a spiral, is gone."
Jackson certainly has his share of critics, but not are tougher on him than he is on himself. He led the team to field goals in his two series, but he wasn't satisfied.
"I was ticked off with not scoring, because I told you guys that was my goal this year, when we get in the red zone, just to score," Jackson said. "And, we didn't do that. Yes, I was ticked off."
Aaron Rodgers Gives Jackson Some Advice
Ravens fans at M&T Bank Stadium who were hoping to see Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers play ended up disappointed, as the Packers held him out as a precautionary move due to tightness in his back. Harbaugh and Ravens defenders expressed disappointment as well, as they undoubtedly wanted to see how the defense matched up against the All-Pro.
Our John Eisenberg wrote: "If Rodgers had played, a game on a warm summer night would have become a genuine measuring stick for a Ravens defense still adjusting to a batch of new faces. How would it fare against one of the game's top quarterbacks?"
Even though he didn't suit up, Rodgers did have a memorable moment on the field, however, as he and Jackson greeted each other after the game.
"It was pretty cool," Jackson said. "I was like, 'What's up GOAT? Greatest of all time,' as soon as I saw him. There are a lot of GOATs out here, but it is Aaron Rodgers, so I have to show my respect."
After an embrace and a handshake, Rodgers told Jackson that he loves watching him play. The veteran also offered the young QB some sage advice.
"Slide a little bit," Rodgers said.
Justice Hill, Patrick Ricard, Chris Moore Among Standouts
A number of Ravens made positive impressions last night. At the top of the list was rookie running back Justice Hill, who had 10 carries for 49 yards and a touchdown.
"A position where an immediate impact as a rookie is more likely is running back," Russell Street Report's Chad Racine wrote. "Justice Hill showed flashes tonight that he could be one of those rookies. His speed has been well documented, but tonight he showed he is also very elusive and has some power for a speedy back."
Baltimore Beatdown's Kyle P Barber wrote that fullback/defensive lineman Patrick Ricard, who is competing for a spot on the 53-man roster, was the MVP of the game.
"A dominant effort for Ricard ends tonight with a fumble recovery, tackle, and two carries for four yards, where one moved the chains on fourth-and- inches," Barber wrote. "Making plays on both sides of the ball will get the attention of coaches."
Another player who stood out on offense was wide receiver Chris Moore.
"Moore has kept a firm grip on a roster spot for most of the offseason, and he took another step toward cementing his place on the team — and perhaps nudging into a larger offensive role — with a strong performance Thursday," Kasinitz wrote.
"He caught four passes for 54 yards, both team highs, and broke free from a Packers defender for a 23-yard touchdown after hauling in a throw from backup quarterback Trace McSorley. Moore was the Ravens' most productive offensive player, and while several other receivers cope with injuries, he's showing he could shoulder a heavy workload."
On defense, outside linebacker Matthew Judon, who missed a couple practices this week, quickly reminded everyone why expectations are so high for him this season. On his 27th birthday, he recorded a sack and a tackle for loss in his limited action.
Judon, who is seeking a contract extension, also stood out after the game. He fielded questions from the media in front of his locker while wearing a money clip around his neck.
Rookie outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson is "trending up" after last night's game, according to Kasinitz.
"It took Ferguson a little time to make a consistent impact on training camp, but he played well in last week's preseason opener and displayed strides in recent practices," Kasinitz wrote. "The third-round rookie continued his progress Thursday by bulldozing his way into the backfield for a tackle for loss in the second half and routinely generated push up front."
After returning an interception for a touchdown in last week's game, cornerback/returner Cyrus Jones made another good accounting of himself, which takes on more importance in light of nickel cornerback Tavon Young likely being lost for the season due to a neck injury.
"The thought going into training camp was that Jones could only secure a roster spot by out-dueling Tyler Ervin for the punt-returner job. And there was no guarantee the Ravens would carry a pure returner," Walker wrote. "But Jones has altered that tenuous outlook with his aggressive play in the secondary, taking on a more prominent defensive role with nickel cornerback Tavon Young sidelined by a neck injury that will likely cost him the entire season.
"Jones lost his man in coverage several times Thursday but also made a string of plays, finishing second on the team with five tackles. In the second quarter, he hit Green Bay quarterback Tim Boyle to force a dump-off pass that cost the Packers a yard."