QB Jackson blisters Bengals with 117 rush yards

NFL

BALTIMORE — In his first NFL start, Lamar Jackson provided a jolt of electricity to a struggling offense, ended a three-game losing streak and essentially saved the Baltimore Ravens‘ season.

Showing Michael Vick-like explosiveness, Jackson ran for 117 yards and threw for 150 as the Baltimore Ravens delivered a much-needed 24-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium.

Jackson, the rookie first-round pick, accounted for 66 percent of Baltimore’s offense in replacing Joe Flacco, whose 41-game consecutive start streak ended due to a hip injury.

Three days removed from going to the hospital because of an illness, Jackson became the first NFL quarterback since 2016 to rush for 100 yards in a game. The last to do so was Colin Kaepernick (113 yards). His 117 yards also set a new single-game rushing record for Ravens’ quarterbacks, according to ESPN Stats and Information research. The previous high was 65 by Tyrod Taylor on Dec. 30, 2012 against the Bengals.

In delivering the Ravens’ first win in 35 days, Jackson showed speed to get to edges, elusiveness in pocket and the ability to hit targets over the middle with quick-hitting passes against the NFL’s worst offense. He finished with 13-of-19 passing and ran the ball 27 times.

Jackson’s impressive starting debut was certainly timely. The Ravens (5-5) are now tied with the Bengals, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins for the AFC’s No. 6 and final playoff spot. A loss to Cincinnati would’ve plummeted the Ravens’ playoff chances to 7.7 percent, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.

There were some growing pains along the way for Jackson, the youngest quarterback to ever start a game for Baltimore at 21 years old. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner fumbled a shotgun snap (which he recovered) and he hit an offensive lineman’s helmet with a sidearm pass.

His biggest mistake came on the first drive of the second half, when Jackson faked out Carlos Dunlap and then threw an interception. The Bengals converted that turnover into a touchdown and eventually took a 21-13 lead.

Jackson rebounded on his next two drives, guiding Baltimore to a touchdown and a field goal to take a 24-21 lead in the fourth quarter. On those two series, Jackson completed 4-of-5 passes for 58 yards and ran for 23 yards on four carries.

Walking on the field to a resounding cheer to start the game, Jackson began with a bang, leading a 75-yard touchdown drive on his first series. Not attempting a pass, he ran five times for 46 yards, tying the most carries by a quarterback on an opening drive since 2001 (Alex Smith had five in 2013).

How fast is Jackson? According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Jackson hit a max speed of 10 miles per hour, the most on a single drive by a quarterback this season, on his five runs in the opening series. The previous high was 4 mph by Dak Prescott in Week 6.

By the middle of the third quarter, Jackson had set the Ravens franchise record for rushing yards by a quarterback, surpassing Tyrod Taylor’s 65 yards in December 2012. By the end of the third quarter, Jackson had eclipsed 100 yards.

The question now is which quarterback leads the Ravens going forward. Flacco will not require surgery on his injured hip, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He could miss the Ravens’ game at home Nov. 25 against the Raiders as well, according to the source, but is not expected to miss time beyond that.

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