In between delivering a rare talk to the team and receiving his most gratifying game ball, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson exacted postseason revenge and silenced those who doubted he could win when it matters most.
"It feels great," Jackson said. "It's always going to be naysayers, no matter what. I appreciate the win. I'm grateful for the win."
The reigning NFL MVP ran for 136 yards -- including an explosive, 48-yard touchdown scramble -- and threw for 179 in a performance that checked off many of his critics' questions.
Can't win in the postseason? Jackson, who turned 24 last week, became the third-youngest quarterback to win NFL MVP and a playoff game. Only Dan Marino and Patrick Mahomes accomplished this feat earlier.
Can't engineer a comeback? Trailing 10-0 in the first quarter, Jackson produced his first victory when trailing by double digits. He had been 0-6.
Can't beat the Titans? It became fitting that Jackson achieved his postseason respect against a rival with whom there is so much bad blood, from the Ravens celebrating on the Titans' logo to walking off the field without shaking hands.
"All of the criticism he's been getting is just unfair," Ravens fullback Patrick Ricard said. "For him to play the way he did and get this win, I think it's going to silence a lot of doubters."
The Ravens will visit the No. 2-seeded Buffalo Bills on Saturday at 8:15 p.m. ET.
Immediately after the franchise's first win since 2014, there was plenty of cheering and dancing inside the locker room. Even coach John Harbaugh performed a little dance.
Then, Harbaugh gave the game ball to Jackson for the QB's first postseason victory.
"It's something that he won't have to talk about in the future," Harbaugh said, "and that's a meaningful thing."
In the days leading up to this playoff rematch, Jackson made it clear his No. 1 goal was to end the talk that he couldn't win in the playoffs. He was 0-2 in the playoffs after the 28-12 upset loss to the Titans last year, when Baltimore was the AFC's top seed and a 10-point favorite.
Teammates understood the magnitude of this game for Jackson when he spoke to them the night before the game, which is something he rarely does.
"When he speaks, he speaks volumes," cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. "When he speaks, you know he means business. When he talked to the team, I was sitting in my room on Zoom and I'm like, 'I know we are going to win the game. I know Lamar is going to have a great game.'"
With 136 rushing yards, Jackson became the second quarterback in the Super Bowl era to total 100 rushing yards and score a rushing touchdown in a playoff game, joining Colin Kaepernick.
His best run was a 48-yard scramble in which he burst through the middle of the Titans' defense to negate an early interception and tie the game at 10. He clocked at a maximum speed of 20.5 mph on the second-longest postseason touchdown run by a quarterback.
"It's the best run I've ever seen by a quarterback," Harbaugh said.
Jackson has produced one of the most memorable starts to an NFL career. He was the youngest quarterback to win NFL MVP last season. He became the fastest quarterback to win 30 games in NFL history when he clinched a playoff berth in the season finale (his 37th game).
Now, he finally has that elusive postseason victory.
"I wasn't really worried about it," Jackson said. "It's just my third year in the league. I don't really care what people say. I'm just happy we got the win and [we get to] move on to the next round, that's it."
Harbaugh, who guided the Ravens to a Super Bowl in 2012, believes this win in Nashville was a special one for what the team has had to persevere this season, from overcoming a COVID-19 outbreak last month to helping Jackson overcome his postseason hurdle.
"I'm going to tell you right now, that's the No. 1 best win," Harbaugh said. "In perspective, it's going to be a top-five for sure. But right now, for me, this is the best win ever. And not just because of what was at stake, but because of the guys and what it meant to our team and to our guys -- what it meant to all of our guys. This may be the best win I've ever been associated with."