Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Lamar Jackson prayed for another chance after costly fumble, leads Ravens to improbable win

It doesn’t matter how you win, just that you get the win. And after five weeks of the 2021 NFL season, the Baltimore Ravens are 4-1, tied for the second-best record in the league behind the 5-0 Arizona Cardinals.

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But on Monday night the Ravens added to their growing list of improbable victories this season, as they scored 22 unanswered points against the Indianapolis Colts to secure a 31-25 win in overtime. They were led by none other than their superstar quarterback, Lamar Jackson, who threw for a career-high 442 yards and four touchdowns.

In coming back from a 25-9 deficit, Jackson hit tight end Mark Andrews for two short touchdowns, both of which were followed by successful two-point conversion passes to Andrews. The second Andrews TD sent the game to overtime, where Jackson sealed the game with a TD pass to Marquise Brown.

“It’s one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said after the game about Jackson. “And it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t like we came out just up and down the field. We had to overcome and fight through some things.”

One of those things was a Jackson fumble on the one-yard line in the third quarter, which would have been Baltimore’s first touchdown of the night. Indy responded by scoring their own TD, moving ahead 22-3.

The Colts’ lead eventually grew to 25-9 with 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter. At that point, according to ESPN, Indianapolis had a 98.4-percent chance of winning. They ended up losing.

Wildly enough, Monday wasn’t Baltimore’s most unlikely win of the year. That came in Week 3 in Detroit, where the Lions held a 99.9-percent win probability, according to ESPN, as the Ravens trailed 17-16 with 26 seconds left and facing a fourth-and-16. But Baltimore stole the victory, 19-17, when Justin Tucker kicked an NFL-record 66-yard field goal as time ran out.

When asked after Monday’s game what he was thinking with his team down by 19 points, Harbaugh said, “You’re not giving up. … First of all, we have Lamar Jackson. Next of all, we have a bunch of guys just like Lamar Jackson, with heart, spirit, soul, persistence and all the other things — faith. Faith and favor, man, they’re tied together.”

Jackson certainly never gave up. When asked how he stayed confident after his fumble at the goal line, he said he prayed.

“We needed that touchdown,” he said. “I was just praying we’d get another opportunity in my head. I didn’t really want to show everybody I’m praying. It’s good to pray now, but I was just like, ‘Man, we just need another opportunity, because I know what we can do.’ We had them right there, and I missed them, and we ended up getting it back, and we made it happen.”

These comebacks and big wins are adding to what is becoming a legendary career for Jackson. The 32nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Jackson went 6-1 in seven starts as a rookie, then won NFL MVP honors in 2019. After he earned his first Pro Bowl selection and was voted to be the AFC’s starting quarterback, Jackson was asked by the media if there is something or someone that keeps him humble while he’s enjoying all this football success.

“The Lord,” he promptly responded. “I give Him all His praise, the glory, the honor, because of what I am. I could have been doing anything, it’s crazy. I’ll be thinking about it, talking to Him throughout the day, like, ‘Man, I appreciate You, I thank You.’ Because if you feel like you’re bigger than the Lord, that’s when all that success die, it goes away. You got to let Him know He’s the reason you [have had] that much success. So I appreciate that from Him. And I’ve got my family around me, my teammates, great teammates, coaching staff. We’ve just got to keep it going and let the Lord know He’s No. 1.”

Jackson also gave praise to God when accepting the Heisman Trophy in 2016 following his sophomore season at the University of Louisville. He was the youngest player to ever receive college football’s top award.

“First and foremost, before I go further along in my speech, I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Jackson said. “Without Him, none of us would be here right now.”

Jackson’s faith was instilled in him at a young age by his mother, Felicia Jones, and he wears No. 8 because of his eight core values: God, prayer, faith, family, education, sacrifice, character and discipline.

The 24-year-old will continue to lean on his faith as he leads the Ravens, who will now prepare for a home game Sunday against the L.A. Chargers, who are also 4-1. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.

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