Lamar Jackson prepares for only second career start vs. Steelers

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has a 24-4 regular-season record as a starter. It’s well known that he has an 0-3 record against the Chiefs. It’s not as well known (or at least not as well realized) that he’s only 1-0 against the Steelers.

His win came in Week Five of the 2019 season, at Pittsburgh. Baltimore, at 2-2, had lost two in a row, to the Chiefs and (surprisingly) at home to the Browns. The Steelers were still reeling from the loss of Ben Roethlisberger for the season with an elbow injury, at 1-3.

It looked like it would be an easy win for Baltimore, which raced out to a 10-0 lead. However, a five-play drive engineered by Mason Rudolph and capped by a 35-yard catch and run by JuJu Smith-Schuster for the score, making it 10-7.

Baltimore responded with a 13-play drive that restored the 10-point lead, thanks ultimately to an 11-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Marquise Brown.

The Ravens forced a punt, but then came the first of three interceptions for Jackson on the day, a ball that caromed off tight end Mark Andrews‘ shoulder pads. The Steelers trimmed the margin to seven with a field goal.

After the teams traded punts (a promising Baltimore drive ended with consecutive sacks of Jackson) came another Jackson interception, a poor throw that was easily picked off by Mike Hilton, setting up another field goal and what was looking like a potential steamrolling went to halftime with Baltimore up by only 17-13.

Jackson’s third interception of the day came on the first drive of the third quarter. It was great play on a deep throw made by linebacker Devin Bush, but still an interception. The ensuing 10-play, 87-yard drive that saw Mason Rudolph concussed and replaced by Duck Hodges gave Pittsburgh its first lead, 20-17.

Jackson responded with a 12-play drive that ended in a field goal, knotting the game at 20. After the Steelers scored another field goal with 2:37 to play, Jackson and the Ravens moved the ball 45 yards in nine plays to tie the game with 10 seconds left in regulation.

In overtime, Baltimore got the ball first and sputtered, with Jackson taking his fifth sack and the Ravens going three and out. Then came a well-timed punch by cornerback Marlon Humphrey on a catch by Smith-Schuster and a very lucky bounce (and non-bounce) and the Ravens had the ball at the Pittsburgh 34. Three plays later, Justin Tucker did what Justin Tucker does and Baltimore won, 26-23.

Jackson did plenty of excellent things in the game, twisting and zipping through the Pittsburgh defense, drawing a 15-yard penalty with a late hit out of bounds (not a flop), and completing more than 67 percent of his passes. The three interceptions are nevertheless glaring; he’s never had another game with that many. The five sacks are the most he’s taken in any regular-season game, too.

Here’s the other reality when it comes to facing the Steelers: Unlike plenty of other defenses when it comes to quarterback who cross the line of scrimmage, the Steelers will treat Jackson like a running back when he dares to run. They told the players to do it three weeks ago against Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, and actions spoke louder than any words could last Sunday, when linebacker Vince Williams blew up (legally) Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

We’ll see what happens on Sunday. The Ravens desperately need to win this one, if they hope to win the division and to avoid their own personal Kryptonite for as long as possible in January. A loss would put them two games behind the Steelers with nine to play and a Thanksgiving night rematch in Pittsburgh then becoming an absolutely must win for the Ravens.

Lamar Jackson prepares for only second career start vs. Steelers originally appeared on Pro Football Talk

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