Lamar to the rescue: How the Ravens' QB saved the day after rough start

BALTIMORE -- Before wrapping up his postgame media session Sunday night, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson made a comment you typically don't hear from someone who had just led his seventh career fourth-quarter comeback.

"I'm going to be mad at the film," Jackson said after the Ravens' 19-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Jackson was far from his MVP form for over three quarters, overthrowing open wide receivers twice for sure-fire touchdowns and getting picked off on another poorly thrown pass. But when the game was on the line, Jackson still showed why he's the most valuable -— and versatile -— player on the field.

In the final two minutes of the game, Jackson finished off the winning drive by running the ball on three of the last four plays, gaining a total of 26 yards. His 19-yard burst put Baltimore in range for Justin Tucker's 43-yard field goal as time expired.

The Ravens (3-2) are in sole possession of first place in the AFC North.

"There's nobody like Lamar," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "There are great quarterbacks, and you can't take away anything from some of the great quarterbacks in this league, and he is in that group. I'll take him over everybody. He does it his way, and he just wants to win. That's what he wants to do; he wants to win. That's what he cares about, and that's why the guys respect him so much."

If not for Jackson and Tucker, the Ravens would have become the fourth team since 2000 to blow double-digit leads in three of their first five games of a season. A week ago, Jackson missed a wide-open Devin Duvernay in the right corner of the end zone on fourth down in a 23-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills. On Sunday night, Jackson was not going to let another victory slip through his grasp after the Bengals rallied from 10 points down to take a 17-16 lead with 1:58 left in the game.

After completing two short passes to tight end Mark Andrews, Jackson kept the ball on a run option and weaved his way through the Bengals defense for 19 yards, which was the longest run of the game for either team. He then held onto the ball two more times, pushing his way through the middle of the defense and taking additional hits to gain some extra yards.

"I hate losing. I always tell you guys that. That's just real," Jackson said. "They just gave me lanes. They played great defense -- shell defense. I saw the little holes, and I just hit them, trying to get the yards, protecting the ball. It was open."

In a game where he struggled throwing the ball (19-of-32 for 174 yards), Jackson showed he was going to do whatever it took to move the ball. It was a gritty final drive for Jackson because his starting running back (J.K. Dobbins) and left tackle (Ronnie Stanley) were on the sideline due to a limited snap count, and his No. 1 wide receiver (Rashod Bateman) was inactive with a foot injury. Even though the playcalls were option plays, there was no way Jackson was giving up the ball.

"Situationally, he knows when to make the right play at the right time," Andrews said.

Jackson is the first player to rank in the top 10 in both touchdown passes (12) and rushing yards (374) through the first five weeks of a season since Tobin Rote in 1952, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. The only other player to do this since 1950 was Joe Geri.

The win over the Bengals also marked the fourth consecutive game that Jackson led the Ravens in rushing. The last quarterback to lead his team in rushing for five straight games was Randall Cunningham for the 1990 Philadelphia Eagles, according to Elias.

The challenge for Jackson and the Ravens will be moving the ball through the air. The next four games before the bye are against teams that rank in the top half of the NFL in pass defense: the New York Giants (8th), Cleveland Browns (14th), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6th) and New Orleans Saints (12th).

"We go as he goes," Duvernay said.