Monday night's performance may have been the best of Lamar Jackson' career, but it won't make him complacent.
People are still buzzing about Jackson completing 37 of 43 passes for a 442 yards and four touchdowns, as the Ravens stormed back from a 19-point deficit to defeat the Indianapolis Colts in overtime. Some people view Jackson's performance as vindication, a game that will silence those who questioned his ability to lead the Ravens to a comeback victory with his arm.
However, Jackson already knew he could pick apart defenses with his arm, and he's still looking to improve as a quarterback at age 24. Monday night's victory was satisfying, but Jackson said he didn't prove anything to himself.
"No, I've been believing in myself," Jackson said. "The Ravens organization has been believing in me. We've just got to keep it going. I really haven't seen my peak yet. It's still early in the season. We've just got to keep staying focused."
After Monday night's game, Jackson said the game seemed to slow down for him down the stretch, when he led Baltimore on four straight scoring drives. Jackson said the game typically slows down over the course of a season, but it seems to be happening earlier this year.
"Ever since I came in the league, it's been getting slower and slower each and every year," he said. "This year, I feel like it's been getting slower earlier throughout the year, and hopefully, it keeps getting slower."
Jackson keeps his focus on winning, and with the Ravens riding a four-game winning streak, they have turned their attention to Sunday's game against the 4-1 Los Angeles Chargers. When Jackson was dominating the second half, the Ravens knew they were watching something special. But they have learned not to put limits on what Jackson can do, and appreciate having a player who can lead them out of dire situations.
"He definitely went to another level in that game," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "That level was pretty unprecedented I would say, and it was awesome to watch. But I'm not surprised. Probably none of you guys are surprised either. You've been watching him, covering him. Sometimes the national media doesn't see all that kind of stuff, just like all the fans don't. But I do believe that even when we get behind, our fans are pretty confident that Lamar has a chance to get us back in it."
Ravens Have Been Superb Handling Short Weeks
Making the quick turnaround from an emotional game Monday night to a Sunday afternoon game will be a challenge for the Ravens, especially going against the Chargers. But they've handled these situations extremely well under Harbaugh. Since 2016, the Ravens are 13-1 in games played after fewer than six days off.
Harbaugh offered some theories as to why the Ravens have responded so well in short week scenarios.
"For me to sit up here and give you a reason, it would just be speculation," Harbaugh said. "I really don't know, other than we've played well. I do believe we have the right kind of guys. Our guys recover, they work on it, they get to work on the gameplan. We do a pretty good job of pacing the practices out I think and get the guys to the game as energetic as they can be. But beyond that you've just got to go play the game, and the players have to play well and find a way to win the game."
Harbaugh also realizes that players don't mind weeks where practices may be shorter and less physically demanding. The Ravens held an afternoon walkthrough Wednesday to help ease their workload following Monday night's game.
"You know what the guys will say – we should always have short weeks," Harbaugh said with a laugh.
Harbaugh: 'We Need More' From Inside Linebackers
Missed tackles and defending running backs and tight ends in pass coverage have been issues for the Ravens defense this year.
Those are areas they want to clean up, especially preparing for a potent Chargers offense that scored 47 points against the Cleveland Browns in Week 5 and have a dynamic pass-catcher at running back in Austin Ekeler.
While second-year linebacker Patrick Queen leads the team in tackles (33), he's had some trouble bringing down ballcarriers in open space and he's not alone. Harbaugh was asked specifically about what he has seen from the team's inside linebackers.
"I see a lot of things," Harbaugh said. "You want a grade? You want me to go through each play? What can I say? They can certainly player better. There's certainly no doubt about that. That's what you're asking me, in a nice way. And I appreciate that. We need more, there's no doubt about that."
Lamar Pleased to See Roughing the Passer Flag
When Jackson took a late hit from Broncos nose tackle Mike Purcell in Week 4, no penalty was called and Jackson was not happy.
Jackson believes all quarterbacks should be protected from late hits that can lead to injuries. So when Colts linebacker Darius Leonard was called for a roughing the passer penalty Monday night, Jackson was pleased.
It was the first time an opponent had been called for roughing Jackson since December of 2019. Jackson even knew the name of the official who called the penalty Monday night.
"Ref [Land] Clark – Mr. Clark," Jackson said. "Mr. Clark, I appreciate that call. I remember his name. I appreciate that. That was a pretty dope call. And it was fair too, he did hit me in the face. It was dope to get one."