Summer 2024

QB Lamar Jackson 'thanking God' as he has top-seeded Baltimore primed for playoffs

Over the past three weeks of the NFL season, the Baltimore Ravens have left no doubt. A 23-7 win at AFC-South leader Jacksonville, a 33-19 victory at 12-4 San Francisco, and a 56-19 throttling of 11-5 Miami at home have essentially ended the debate as to who is the best team in football.

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Led by quarterback Lamar Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP and this season’s MVP frontrunner, the Ravens are 13-3 and winners of six straight. They have clinched the AFC North title and the AFC’s No.1 seed for the playoffs, scored the second most points per game (29.6) while allowing the fewest (16.4), and are peaking at just the right time.

In Sunday’s 37-point dismantling of the Dolphins, who are currently slated as the AFC’s No. 2 seed, Jackson completed 18 of 21 passes for 321 yards and five touchdowns. He also added 35 yards on the ground.

Following his dazzling performance, Jackson was asked in the postgame press conference to reflect on what it meant to him to be playing so well during the season’s home stretch, after an ankle injury and then a knee sprain ended his previous two campaigns early.

“I just thank God for [giving me the health to play],” he said Sunday. “I should have started the presser off by thanking God. … The last two seasons I wasn’t able to fight with my team. I had to do it from the sidelines and just cheer guys on. But I’m grateful for the opportunity.”

Jackson knows about the importance of remaining grateful for all that God has given him. He thanked God after signing a lucrative five-year contract extension in May.

In an appearance on “The Wunderkind Show” this past spring, his advice to kids who may be struggling was to turn to God in humble prayer.

“You’ve got to keep God first,” said Jackson, who often retweets and likes posts about God on X. “Pray to God, and you’ve got to be consistent with God. It’s not like making a wish, like seeing a shooting star and just making a wish. You’ve got to be consistent when you’re praying to God. … He’s gonna hear our prayers.”

Despite his NFL MVP season, his 2016 Heisman Trophy win at Louisville, and his 62-24 record as a starter, Jackson has faced criticism about his quarterbacking ability. He sought to remain steadied by God during those times, and now that he’s receiving widespread praise for his on-field success, Jackson will seek to do the same.

When asked in 2019 how he stays humble, Jackson said, “The Lord. 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 dies, 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.”

The Ravens host the rival Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7) on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET. The Steelers will be fighting for their playoff lives while the Ravens have already clinched the No. 1 seed. Baltimore’s front office still hasn’t decided whether Jackson, who turns 27 on Sunday, will play in Week 18.

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