Two of the best and brightest quarterbacks in the NFL made news on Sunday.
Big news, in fact.
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson overcame a halftime deficit for the first time in his career to win a game. In doing so, he tied Miami Dolphins Hall of Famer Dan Marino for the best start by a quarterback since 1966 with a 25-5 regular-season record.
And with his four touchdown passes in a victory, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes became the fastest quarterback to throw 100 TDs. It took Mahomes just 40 games to do it, beating the old mark of 44 games set by... Hall of Famer Dan Marino.
For sure, both are significant feats, and tell us about how good these two young quarterbacks are.
But without question, Jackson’s piece of history is far better than Mahomes’.
Let’s face it. Sports has a short menu: wins and losses.
Putting up big stats is definitely great, but not better than winning at an all-time clip.
For sure, Mahomes gets the nod over Jackson so far in his career. He can throw the ball all over the yard and won a Super Bowl last season and was the game’s MVP. He also has a regular-season MVP in his back pocket.
But Jackson’s impact has truly been impressive from the word go. His talents took the Ravens to another level from the minute he stepped onto the field.
And, by the way, he has a unanimous MVP in his back pocket, only the second time that’s happened in NFL history. Tom Brady won the award in 2010 garnering every single vote.
In his first full season as a starter, Jackson set NFL records for yards rushing by a QB (1,206) and led an offense that compiled more rushing yards (3,296) than any team in league history. He also led the league in passing TDs with 36 (he also had seven more on the ground).
But it just wasn’t his stats. The Ravens won and were nearly unstoppable, winning their final 12 games, finishing with the league’s best mark at 14-2.
Jackson is a winner and has been from Day 1 when he took over for Joe Flacco in Baltimore.
And winning speaks volumes. “That’s really something. Wow,” Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh told the media after Jackson tied Marino. “Lamar will tell you it’s a team effort. I think the team will tell you that you couldn’t win those games without Lamar.”
As for Mahomes’ TD pace, it’s impressive. But often in this pass-happy league, the numbers today are inflated because the ball is thrown now more than ever before.
It’s not to take anything away from Mahomes’ accomplishments — 50 touchdowns in his first season as a starter in 2018 and now this record to 100. But when put in perspective and context, it’s on the menu everywhere.
This season, NFL teams are in the middle of a scoring frenzy. In fact, NFL teams are averaging more than 50 combined points per game for the first time ever.
Plus, there are plenty of quarterbacks around the league who have put up prolific stats and not won. The best example might be Detroit QB Matthew Stafford. He has Hall of Fame-worthy stats, but little else to show for it. Despite his play for more than a decade in Motown, the Lions haven’t seen any growth in the win column. And, of course, it’s not fair to put all the burden of losing on him.
It’s just that some guys just always find a way to win. That has been Jackson.
For sure, everyone isn’t on board with Jackson and some have raised doubts about him. He has faced criticism about not being able to win big games. Earlier this season, the Ravens were blown out by Mahomes’ Chiefs. In the contest, Jackson suffered a career-low 97 passing yards.
And thus far, Jackson is 0-2 in the postseason. But it’s unfair to paint him as a playoff loser with such a small sample size and just one full season under his belt.
“Lamar is our guy. We’re with him all the way - 100 percent,” Harbaugh said. “We got his back. We believe in him. We love him. He’s that kind of person.
“He gives us everything he’s got every single week. You’re going to have critics in this league. You’re going to have critics in life. That’s part of it. He understands that.”
And if you understand anything about sports, it’s all about winning.
And Jackson has done that at a historic pace.