The NFL's reigning unanimous MVP finally looked like last year's version of himself in leading the Ravens past the Eagles.
While he's had some low moments, it's not like Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has been generally bad this season. It just took until Week 6 for the man who unanimously won the NFL's Most Valuable Player award last season to play like the best version of himself.
In the Ravens' 30-28 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Jackson passed for 186 yards and one touchdown, and ran for 108 yards and a touchdown. It was his first triple-digit rushing effort of the season after posting six such stat lines last season. He also didn't throw an interception after getting picked off in each of the Ravens' last two games.
With his eighth career game of at least 100-plus yards in two stat categories, Jackson tied Michael Vick for No. 1 on the NFL's all-time list.
The Ravens improved to 5-1 but still trail the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers (5-0) in the AFC North. They are still comfortably in the playoff picture, however. The Eagles fell to 1-4-1 and are still in contention for a division title in the comically thin NFC East.
It was nothing near a flawless performance for the Ravens. They were up 17-0 at halftime, and led 24-6 at the end of the third quarter following Jackson's 37-yard touchdown run. But in the fourth quarter, the Ravens allowed the Eagles to fly.
Limited to just two field goals in the fourth, the Ravens' almost blew the game. The Eagles stormed back to get within two points on quarterback Carson Wentz's one-yard TD plunge with under two minutes remaining. The Eagles tried to tie it with a two-point conversion, but Baltimore's defense finally stepped up and stopped them to preserve the win.
While Jackson looked like his 2019 self on Sunday, the Ravens' offense overall is still trying to catch up to last year's version. In 2019, the Ravens ranked second in the NFL in offensive yards per game. In 2020, they ranked 24th in that category.
A team that fielded 12 Pro Bowlers last season -- tying an NFL record -- doesn't consistently play like such a talent-loaded roster this season.
This year's Ravens seem lacking in the playmakers department. Jackson is of course always a home-run threat, but Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is Baltimore's only really dangerous receiver.
Running back Mark Ingram is not playing like the Pro Bowler he was last season. He has only 225 yards on the ground, with a season-high 57 yards in last week's win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Jackson is the team's best runner, but the running narrative is that he can't carry the offense alone ... and he can't play this style for too long before he starts to rack up injuries. The Ravens will be smart to put effective weapons around Jackson so he can preserve his body and make his runs about quality rather than quantity.
Jackson shouldn't have to run for 100 yards every week or 1,000 yards every year just for the Ravens to win. But as long as he's doing it, the team will at least be entertaining to watch.Published 20 Oct 2020, 12:43 IST