HomeFootball DirtRavens Quarterback Delivers Masterful Performance against Texans, Continues Legacy

Ravens Quarterback Delivers Masterful Performance against Texans, Continues Legacy

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Lamar Jackson has spent an entire NFL career fighting erroneous narratives.

He couldn’t throw at this level of football. Even after being only the second unanimous MVP in league history, he couldn’t lead a serious winning team like the Baltimore Ravens to legitimate championship contention. As such, for a time, some believed he didn’t deserve a Brinks truck of generational money and a wholesale commitment from his organization.

During the Baltimore Ravens’ 34-10 AFC Divisional Round beatdown of the Houston Texans on Saturday afternoon, a masterful Jackson demonstrated precisely why all these criticisms never had any tangible merit. With over 250 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns created, Jackson took a playoff game over like the face-of-the-league superstar quarterback he’s always been.

This was Jackson at the peak of his powers.

What was remarkable about Jackson’s performance on Saturday was his pliability. Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans — who remain one of the game’s premier defensive minds — came prepared to throw Jackson off his rhythm with an unconventional blitzing plan. After getting somewhat rattled early, Jackson and Baltimore’s offense, by extension, answered with a heavy dose of quarterback draws. When Houston reverted back to a diet of four-man rushes in response, Jackson took his time playing around the pocket, letting the offense come to him before delivering an off-platform dime or scampering through self-manufactured running lanes as big as the Red Sea.

It didn’t matter how the Texans tried to disrupt Jackson. Nothing would’ve worked because they just couldn’t.

In every instance where it seemed like Houston had landed a powerful body blow, the likely two-time MVP quarterback had a devastating counterpunch ready. This is what happens when the best dual-threat quarterback of all time has finally mastered playing his position and playing the game. You can’t disrupt him. You can’t make him uncomfortable and erase him with any bog standard gameplan designed to neutralize an offense’s fulcrum. Because try as you might, you’ll catch a quarterback like Jackson off guard for a faint moment, only to see him decisively adjust. You can crush quarterbacks like Jackson all you want, but he only needs a handful of mistakes to capitalize on to win.

Jackson’s adaptability was nowhere more evident than on this sublime touchdown pass to Baltimore tight end Isaiah Likely:

Led by Jackson, the Ravens will now host their first AFC title game ever next Sunday. With everything he’s already accomplished, it is fitting that Jackson adds that notable notch to the Ravens’ belt, a franchise with a rich tradition despite only existing for a few decades. (Eat your hearts out, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.) It is appropriate that Jackson takes Baltimore to the doorstep of the Super Bowl for the first time in over a decade. There’s symbolism, and then there’s talismans like Jackson dropping a cartoon anvil on top of our heads to ensure we got the message.

Perhaps more importantly, Jackson can take the Ravens back to the Big Game by overcoming his more celebrated peers. Even with Jackson’s litany of regular-season accomplishments, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen have probably surpassed the Ravens’ superstar in terms of acclaim lately. They are marketed as the next great quarterback rivalry, the Tom Brady and Peyton Manning battle of the modern era. Jackson, usually, has been third fiddle in that conversation. Heck, during a short Ravens’ downswing in recent years, it was easy to forget about Jackson entirely. The talent never left, but the Ravens and Jackson’s lack of success made him an afterthought.

That period is over. When making comparisons, if Jackson’s name isn’t in the same sentence as Mahomes and Allen moving forward, then someone made an egregious oversight.

Jackson has already staked a claim on being the finest signal-caller in Ravens’ history. But up until Saturday, the postseason accolades eluded him. It’s easy to say Jackson’s casual dominance of the Texans was the signature performance in the career of quarterback everyone has been all too eager to tear down for years. But it might be too soon.

Lamar Jackson has mastered playing professional quarterback. This postseason feels like it might be all about him crafting his personal legacy, and it’s only just beginning.

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