Did you get any sleep last night, after Sunday Night Football between the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs? No? It’s OK, I also did not! In a prime-time matchup between two AFC playoff hopefuls, and two of the NFL’s brightest stars in Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes, this marquee matchup did not disappoint! The #RavensFlock was electrifying for their home opener at M&T Bank Stadium!
The narrative before the game was centered around two basic themes.
One, Jackson and the Ravens were 0-3 versus the Mahomes led Chiefs. Lamar was facing all the pressure in the world to beat his young counterpart. As is normal in the football sports world, quarterbacks are pinned against one another, as if they are the only ones playing. This has long been a cloud over Lamar Jackson, as the NFL world seems infatuated with what he has not accomplished yet in his short career. Well, that narrative has been officially erased, and like most Ravens fans, we are wondering where the narrative will turn next, and looking forward to when Lamar is able to close another chapter on being unfairly criticized.
Two, NFL pundits and fans alike had a W penciled in for the Chiefs before it even began. The Ravens entered the game as home underdogs, which is a rare occurrence, having the Chiefs listed as 3.5-point favorites from Caesars Sportsbook. This is largely due to the staggering number of players Baltimore has placed on season-ending IR.
BLOW FOR BLOW WITH THE BEST OFFENSE IN THE LEAGUE
15 PLAYERS ON IR. WIN THE DAMN THING @RAVENS
— alex 🌵 (@SimplyAS10prod) September 20, 2021
That’s 15 players on IR, most of whom are starters and were supposed to be big pieces of this team’s playoff run. By comparison, the NFL average is just 4 players. So how did the Ravens end up pulling off one of the biggest upsets in recent Baltimore football history?
Insert Lamar “Action” Jackson, or like my son, who’s obsessed with the Pixar film Cars 3 calls him, Jackson Storm!
This prime-time matchup couldn’t have started off worse for Lamar and the Ravens.
In first quarter, Lamar Jackson vs. 4-man pass rush: 1-of-4 for minus-4 yards and 2 interceptions, per @ESPNStatsInfo
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) September 20, 2021
He would be the first to tell anyone he cannot throw a pick-6 within the first minute of a game and expect to win, especially when you are playing one of the NFL’s most high-powered offenses. There are a lot of things to clean up from that game, but there are just as many things to love.
After his two first turnovers, Lamar Jackson was sensational. He made plays with his reads, with his legs, and with his arm. For good measure, he was even trying new jump passes from over top his offensive line! Jackson would end up throwing for 239 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, while also running 16 times for 107 yards (6.7 YPC) and 2 TDs. This is what makes Lamar such a special weapon, who has transcended the league. When you allow Lamar to utilize his elite traits, great things almost always happen.
Lamar Jackson went toe-to-toe with Mahomes in a battle for the ages. This was a signature Baltimore Ravens win in the Lamar Jackson era that he needed, this team needed, and the city of Baltimore is reveling in! The odds are not good for teams to start 0-2 and still make the playoffs, and like coach John Harbaugh said in his post-game speech, “Don’t Flinch!” The Ravens fought every second along the way, and in doing so, have one of the team’s biggest wins in recent memory.
In his postgame conference, Lamar summed it up as well:
Jackson: “It feels good to get the monkey off our back.”
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) September 20, 2021
That monkey is off their back and their Super Bowl hopes are still very much alive and well, after proving they can hang with the powerhouses of the NFL!