There was an energy shift last night in Baltimore.
Sunday night’s game was only the second contest of the season for both the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens, but I’d be lying to you if I said that that win wasn’t bigger than a Gold’s Gym meathead on four protein supplements.
Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens finally defeated Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, 36-35, in a great back-and-forth game. While the game itself doesn’t serve as a changing of the guard in the AFC, it does smash through the barriers that have been placed around the Ravens. It’s one thing to know that you can beat a team, it’s a whole other thing to actually do it. The Ravens, and especially Jackson, made plays all night when it mattered most, and had the guts to be aggressive and take the game away from the Chiefs in the final couple of minutes.
The conversion on 4th-and-1 in their own territory with little over a minute left was one of the gutsiest coaching decisions of John Harbaugh’s career and it worked to perfection. Harbaugh asked Jackson if he wanted to go for it and Jackson emphatically said yes. The move shows the amount of confidence that Harbaugh has in Jackson and how much confidence Jackson has in himself.
It was also the smartest decision to make in the moment because if you punt the ball back to Mahomes you probably lose anyway.
The Chiefs are a team that you have to go beat, you can’t play a traditional game and expect them to lose. They’re too good for that. The Chiefs are a team that you have to take everything from because they usually give you nothing. That’s exactly what Harbaugh did.
If you watched the start of this game, it’s hard to imagine Baltimore would be able to put itself in that position late in the game after coming back from being down double digits in the fourth quarter. Jackson looked shakier than a guy wearing a plastic chain who’s trying to talk to a woman at the club. He threw two picks in the first quarter and it looked like the same old narratives would start to swirl around him yet again as the Chiefs would cruise to another win.
Yet, as all great players do, Jackson bounced back and proceeded to smoke the Chiefs’ defense like he was at brunch with Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa. The former MVP would finish the game 18-of-26 passing for 239 yards and a touchdown as well as 107 rushing yards and two more scores. He collected his 5th career game with more than 200 passing yards and 100 rushing yards in the same game. According to ESPN Stats and Info, no other player in NFL history has more than three games of this nature.
The beauty of last night’s game was that Jackson proved that he could beat Mahomes by being true to himself. He proved that his skillset was good enough to get the job done when it mattered the most and he didn’t have to conform to prove he can be successful on the highest level.
Lamar Jackson won being Lamar Jackson, and there’s a beautiful lesson for all somewhere in that.