BALTIMORE -- Remember when Lamar Jackson couldn’t lead the Baltimore Ravens back from double-digit deficits?
Jackson established himself as the NFL’s new comeback king in guiding the Ravens to a 34-31 overtime win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
He is the first quarterback this season to deliver three double-digit comebacks, doing so against the Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts and Vikings. This comes after Jackson was 0-6 as a starter in his first three seasons -- including the playoffs -- when trailing by 10 or more points.
“He’s a fighter, and he’s a finisher,” Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen said. "They try to label him. They try to just say everything they can about him, because they know what type of person he is -- they know how good he is and how scary he is. People can throw the labels at him all they want; he came back, what, three times this year? So, hats off to him controlling our offense, getting the ball to the guys and just making plays.”
Since taking over as the Ravens' starter in the middle of the 2018 season, Jackson has won more games than any other quarterback with 31, and he has done so in dominant fashion for the most part. When Baltimore would fall behind early in games -- typically in the postseason -- it was as if Jackson and the Ravens were in a state of shock. They weren’t used to being in the position to play catch-up, and their run-first offense wasn’t conducive to big-time comebacks.
In 2021, the AFC North-leading Ravens (6-2) have become accustomed to trailing by double digits, and they’re more built to storm back from deficits because of Jackson’s improvement as a passer. With Baltimore’s top two running backs -- J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards -- out for the season, the Ravens have relied on Jackson’s arm more than ever.
Still, Jackson and the Ravens have struggled to produce complete games. They’re winning because they’ve been able to flip the switch offensively after halftime. Down 24-10 to the Vikings on Sunday, Jackson completed 79.1% of his passes in the second half (19-of-24 for 201 yards) after connecting on just 47% of his throws (8-of-17 for 65 yards) in the first half.
“I’d rather not be behind,” Jackson said. "I’d rather just step on the gas and just keep going, just keep scoring. But our team, we’re fighters. We believe in each other. We’ve got faith. We were just talking about that in [the locker room]. We’ve just got to keep it going. Hopefully, we won’t be in any more overtime games.”
This is the second time this season that Jackson rallied Baltimore from a 14-point hole in the second half (the 31-25 win over the Colts on Monday Night Football was the other). How amazing is that? In coach John Harbaugh’s first 13 seasons in Baltimore, the Ravens were 2-35 when down by at least two touchdowns.
In the locker room after Sunday’s win, Harbaugh gave the game ball to “faith.” Veteran guard Kevin Zeitler, who has played for the Bengals, Browns and Giants, told his teammates that he has been on teams and you knew the game was over when you were down by 14 points.
"We had those gut punches, but the fact that our guys just stand back up strong and keep fighting, I think that’s what makes it special,” Harbaugh said.
It also helps to have one of the most special players in the game in Jackson. On Sunday, Jackson became the first quarterback in NFL history with multiple games of 100 yards rushing and three touchdown passes.
Asked why Jackson is so successful at comebacks, Harbaugh said, “I think his poise -- he doesn’t get flustered. He gives every play the maximum opportunity to be successful, if that makes sense. And then, he’s just good. He’s just really good.”