Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson missed the final five regular-season games in each of the past two seasons because of injuries.
Those setbacks essentially dashed any hopes for his team to make a run to the Super Bowl.
This year, Jackson is healthy heading into that final stretch of the season, which could help the Ravens potentially earn the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.
Baltimore hosted its one and only AFC Championship Game 52 years ago on January 31, 1971.
Jackson, however, isn’t feeling any extra pressure. Those high expectations have been around all season.
“Every week has been a playoff game for us. We just have to keep staying locked in, and that’s only what we can control,” Jackson said.
Jackson has played every game this season and has thrown for 2,618 yards with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. His 98.4 quarterback rating ranks seventh in the NFL.
He is also second on the team with 574 yards rushing and remains the main cog in the Ravens’ offense.
Jackson contends last week’s bye came at the best possible time.
“It feels great, but I felt like going into the bye week, we already knew that,” Jackson said. “We just have to focus on what we can control, and that’s [to] keep winning games, going out there and putting on a better performance than we did before the bye week on offense. Just keep fighting each and every game, because it’s any given Sunday.”
Jackson missed the final regular-season games in 2021 and 2022 because of ankle and knee injuries, respectively. The Ravens did not qualify for the playoffs in 2021 and lost to the Cincinnati Bengals, 24-17, in last year’s wild-card game.
Overall, the Ravens are 4-8 without Jackson in the lineup. The Ravens have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL with five games to play, but Jackson will give them a chance to win each of those matchups.
Jackson is confident this year’s Ravens team has a chance to finally make that run to the Super Bowl.
“I feel like I’m preaching to the choir, but it’s like we have to take advantage of what we have because we might not see it again for a few years,” he said. “We might. I’m not going to say that. We might, but you never know.”