The rallying cry of many Lamar Jackson haters has been that he struggles playing from behind. I seem to recall it differently. Let’s go to the tape.
Lamar Jackson is the reigning unanimous MVP heading into the 2020 NFL season. He led the NFL in touchdown passes last season with 36 and lived up to the dual-threat billing that was his reputation.
But yet, there are still folks that like to knit-pick Lamar’s game. One of the most vocal complaints from Ravens haters (and sadly supporters) is that Jackson “struggles to play from behind.” Admittedly so, I have fallen victim of this opinion as well but to a lesser extent than some of the more vocally outspoken of this opinion.
Let’s start by saying it is harder to play from behind for any NFL team. I don’t think this is debatable in any case but furthermore, the Ravens are a run-oriented team that plays much more comfortably from ahead. They trailed for a whopping 32 minutes and 20 seconds last season outside of their two regular season losses to the Chiefs and the Browns in back-to-back weeks.
These two losses and the playoff loss to the Titans are the basis for this article as they are the only games in which the Ravens trailed for a significant period of time. How did Jackson perform when trailing?
Let’s start with the 33-28 Week Three loss to the Chiefs. The Ravens trailed 23-6 at halftime and out of the half recommitted to their running game, rumbling for 75 yards on nine plays to cut the lead to 23-13. Jackson was 0-1 and had an eight yard carry in the drive that got the Ravens to within 10. Hardly dazzling but nothing disappointing.
The defense responded by stopping KC on downs at the Baltimore 41 but the offense followed with a three and out that included a miscommunication on a third down incompletion to Marquise Brown. Jackson finished the drive 0-1. No one is perfect right?
After conceding an eight play, 80 yard touchdown drive, Jackson and the offense took over trailing 30-13 with 2:07 left in the third quarter. This one was over. The Ravens again responded going 75 yards on 13 plays culminating in a Mark Ingram touchdown run and a failed two point conversion. Jackson finished the drive 5-8 for 74 yards. That’s a solid drive from your QB.
The defense forced a punt five plays into the Kansas City drive and Baltimore got it back with 10:40 remaining in the fourth trailing 30-19. Jackson engineered a 10 play, 59 yard drive capped off with a Justin Tucker field goal to cut the lead to 30-22 with 6:39 remaining. Jackson finished the drive 3-6 for 57 yards in cutting the Chiefs lead to one score.
Eight plays and 57 yards later, the defense conceded a field goal to extend the deficit to 33-22 with 4:30 remaining. Jackson then led a nine play, 70 yard drive in 2:35 to cut the lead to 33-28 with 2:01 remaining. On the drive he went for 6-8 for 61 yards and added a video game like 9-yard touchdown run. He also left the Ravens with a timeout giving them hope heading into the last Chiefs drive.
The defense stuffed Damian Williams on first down leading to the two-minute warning. After a one yard gain on second down and the Ravens calling their final timeout it was third and nine from the 37 with 1:51 to go. A swing pass to Williams picked up 16 to effectively close out the Ravens.
Jackson was 14-24 for 182 yards and added two carries for 17 yards and a touchdown in the comeback bid. “Yeah but he didn’t throw any touchdowns.” Who cares; he did what was needed to keep the Ravens in a game they had no business being in. Sure, they never got the ball back and in the end, the comeback fell short, but it was hardly a concerning trailing performance from Jackson.
On to the Browns debacle.