LAS VEGAS — Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson let out a sigh and tapped the lectern in frustration when asked about his two fumbles in Monday night’s dizzying, 33-27 overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
"That ticked me off,” Jackson said. "I hate fumbles, I hate any type of turnover.”
Jackson’s fumbles led to two late touchdowns for Las Vegas, including setting up Derek Carr’s winning 31-yard touchdown pass to Zay Jones in overtime.
In his first two NFL openers, Jackson had been incredibly successful. This time, he began the 2021 season with a historically poor showing, as far as coughing up the ball. It marked only the second time in the past 40 years that an NFL quarterback fumbled in both the fourth quarter and overtime. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did so in 2018 against the Cleveland Browns.
This rare occurrence even led to a rarer -- not-suitable-for-work -- outburst on social media by Jackson, who admonishes himself when he curses in media sessions. But, on Monday, Jackson tweeted out a broken heart emoji with three words “F---ing a-- fumbles.”
Jackson’s mistakes looked as if they came from a former NFL MVP trying to create a spark for an offense that's on its third No. 1 running back of the summer and struggled mightily in pass protection. Both times he lost the ball, he was trying to gain yards and avoid a sack.
Jackson was pressured on 54.5% of his dropbacks (18 of 33), which is the highest team pressure in a game in the Next Gen Stats era (since 2016). His one touchdown pass required him to scramble for a total of 27 yards, according to Next Gen Stats data.
The number of times Jackson had to elude pass-rushers resembled last season’s 17-3 AFC divisional playoff loss, although it shouldn’t have. After the season, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta said the team needed to upgrade the pass protection, which led to the free-agent signings of right guard Kevin Zeitler and tackle Alejandro Villanueva and the drafting of guard Ben Cleveland in the third round.
In Monday’s opener, Jackson was hit 17 times (second only to Buffalo’s Josh Allen in Week 1) because Baltimore couldn’t slow down Las Vegas pass-rushers Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue. Villanueva had the fifth-worst pass block win rate (71%) out of 65 offensive tackles, and Stanley (80.6%) ranked 44th among tackles.
In Jackson’s final play of the game, he was pressured after running back Ty’Son Williams whiffed on a block and Jackson got the ball knocked out at the Baltimore 27-yard line. The Ravens’ win probability plummeted from 50% to 14% on that turnover. The Raiders reached the end zone two plays later.
"The last [fumble] … just have two hands on the ball, and I could've just took a sack, if anything,” Jackson said. "It happens. [It’s] football.”
Jackson posted a perfect passer rating (158.3) in leading the Ravens to Week 1 wins in 2019 and 2020. This year, he was far from perfect in his second career game with two lost fumbles.
"We got Lamar's back," linebacker Patrick Queen said. "He had some fumbles, but that's on us. We have to get stops after that. We got to get the ball back to him. You've seen what he can do."