OWINGS MILLS, Md. — An offhand comment ignited a spark in Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson prior to the season-opener against the Cleveland Browns.
When asked about matching up against the reigning NFL MVP, Browns defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson replied: “I don’t think he [Jackson] turned into Aaron Rodgers no time soon.”
Jackson then proceeded with another dominant performance, throwing for 275 yards with three touchdowns (151.2 qbr) in the Ravens 38-6 victory,
Three days after the game, Jackson was asked if he had heard Richardson’s comments:
“Yeah I did,” he replied.
Did that add more fuel to his game?
“I guess so,” Jackson said with a smile.
Jackson was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Cleveland. It is the fifth time in Jackson’s last nine starts and sixth time overall that Jackson has won the award.
Jackson showed poise throughout the game and has clearly taken the next step in year three of his pro career. His teammates see a difference in his demeanor and the accuracy of his passes.
“You can tell he’s a lot more comfortable, and he’s a lot more pinpoint with it,” wide receiver Marquise Brown said. “It’s now our job to be at the spot because that’s where he’s putting it. He’s doing a good job of throwing it away from defenders and throwing it to where you can catch and run. So, he’s been doing a good job of just improving his game.”
Last season, Jackson became just the second player in NFL history to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player by a unanimous vote, joining Tom Brady in 2010. He is also the youngest quarterback to win the award at age 23.
He completed 265 of 401 passes for 3,127 yards and an NFL-high 36 touchdowns, which was also a franchise record. Jackson finished with 1,206 yards rushing — sixth-best in the league and the most by a quarterback in NFL single-season history.
Opponents might be more careful about what they say about him moving forward.
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