Lamar Jackson is making history. Just a week after he played ghostbuster against the supernatural Patriots defense, Jackson embarrassed the Bengals in a 49-13 win on Sunday afternoon. In the process, he dazzled everyone watching—and added his name to the record books.
Jackson finished with 15 completions on 17 attempts for 223 yards (13.1 passing yards per attempt), three touchdowns, and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. It’s the second time this season that Jackson has had more touchdown passes than incompletions (he first did so against the Dolphins in Week 1). It’s also the second time Jackson has recorded a perfect passer rating, tying him with Ben Roethlisberger as the only passers to have two such games in the same season. He’s also now the third player in NFL history—along with Joe Montana and Aaron Rodgers—to throw for three touchdowns, rush for a score, and have a perfect passer rating (minimum of 15 completions) in a single game, according to NFL Research.
Jackson added to that impressive passing day with seven carries for 65 yards, and he scored a touchdown on one of the signature runs of his career. Up 28-10 midway through the third quarter, Jackson faked a handoff to Mark Ingram and made five players miss en route to the end zone.
Bengals safety Jessie Bates III (no. 30) got ruthlessly juked on this play, as he fell for Jackson’s one-step cut before the QB darted upfield. That wasn’t Jackson’s most impressive move of the run, though. A few steps later, he spun away from two defenders and sent them crashing into a third.
Cincinnati safety Shawn Williams, who was one of the two defenders spun out on the play, told The Athletic after the game that the Ravens “have probably the MVP quarterback. He’s got my vote.”
Jackson’s rushing was fun, but his passing is the reason Baltimore won. He led the Ravens on three consecutive 75-yard touchdown drives to open the game, effectively burying Cincinnati before the team really had a chance to get into its first game back after a bye week.
Lamar Jackson finds Mark Andrews in the end zone for the second time today! #BALvsCIN @lj_era8 @MAndrews_81— NFL (@NFL) November 10, 2019
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The obvious caveat to Sunday’s performance is that it came against the Bengals, who are now 0-9 and off to their worst start since 1993. Jackson’s other game with a perfect passer rating this season came against the Dolphins in Week 1, when they were playing a sub-expansion franchise level of football. But the Ravens’ successes in those games can’t be explained away by poor competition. They destroyed the Dolphins and Bengals by a combined score of 108-23. But more important was their inventiveness. The Ravens could have beaten both teams without revealing their best cards, but instead they used those contests as laboratories to tinker with the machine that offensive coordinator Greg Roman has built. This week, Baltimore dropped Robert Griffin III into the backfield with Lamar and ran the option. Along with Ingram, that put three Heisman trophy winners in the same backfield.
Each time the Ravens deploy a new facet of their offense, it makes life significantly more difficult for their opponents—who already have to prepare to face one of the most unique offenses in the league. Roman’s unit is re-introducing decades-old concepts (like flanking two tight ends on either side of Jackson in the pistol with a running back behind him), and it has Jackson on a historic pace.
He already has 702 rushing yards this season on 106 attempts (6.6 yards per carry). That would be the 11th-most all time in a single season by a quarterback. And Jackson is well within striking range of the single-season QB rushing record (1,039 yards) set by Michael Vick in 2006. He’s also tied with Russell Wilson for the second-most career 100-yard rushing games by a starting quarterback (four), and is almost halfway to Vick’s record of 10 games. All this despite Sunday’s game being Jackson’s 16th career start. He doesn’t turn 23 years old until the second week of January, and at this rate the Ravens might be throwing him a party while they sit out with a first-round bye.
For as good as Jackson is right now, his future may be even brighter. Perhaps that’s why he needs the shades on the sidelines.