Ravens coach John Harbaugh on quarterback Lamar Jackson: ‘best in this league’

OWINGS MILLS — Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson mesmerized his coaches and teammates with his performance Sunday night in Jacksonville while frustrating the Jaguars.

He consistently dodged defenders, spun out of their grasp, and threw deft passes to his wide receivers and tight ends downfield.

When the pocket collapsed, Jackson found a seam and ran downfield with a gang of potential tacklers chasing him.

Jackson was the difference in the Ravens’ 23-7 victory over the Jaguars that clinched a playoff berth with three regular-season games remaining.

“I definitely think Lamar plays like a quarterback in a sense that [he does] what a quarterback needs to do,” coach John Harbaugh said. [He] delivers the ball on time, is accurate, runs the offense well, makes checks – everything in a quarterback that you would typically think of. Everything else is a plus. That’s what makes him so good. That’s what makes him the best in this league, honestly.

“I think there’s nobody that can do what he does – arm-talent-wise [and] his legs, obviously. He’s a different breed, and it’s something we have never seen in the sport – ever – I don’t think. I’m glad he’s on my team.” 

Jackson was 14-for-24 for 171 yards with a touchdown and interception. He also ran for 97 yards on 12 carries.

Jackson pulled off the key play of the game when he avoided a sack by spinning out of a tackle and heaved a 26-yard pass to Isaiah Likely that gave the Ravens the ball on the 4. That set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Gus Edwards to give the Ravens a 17-7 lead with 14:58 remaining in the game.

“I just had to make a play [and] make something happen,” Jackson said. “I [saw] Likely. I believe if he wasn’t so free, Likely would have scored because I already [saw] him, but I couldn’t throw it because [No.] 91 was rushing, and I [didn’t] want to have a fumble happen, so I just made something happen, and I [saw] him. I [saw No.] 31 [Darious Williams] flying under.

“I’m like, ‘If I try to drive it, it’s going to be an interception,’ and I already threw one, so I was [ticked] off. So, it’s like, ‘just give Likely a shot.’ I know he can jump a little, so it’s like, ‘just give him a shot,’ and he made a play, a great play.” 

The Ravens still have a tough road to secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. They play the NFC’s best team, the San Francisco 49ers, on Christmas day, and then have a matchup on New Year’s Eve against the Miami Dolphins, who are one game behind them in the AFC playoff race. Baltimore finishes the season against AFC North rival the Pittsburgh Steelers.

As long as Jackson is healthy, they’ll be confident in all of those games.

“I’m just trying to win,” Jackson said. “I’m trying to win a game at a time, but I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful for the opportunity.” 

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