OWINGS MILLS — Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson remembers Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama and thinking that he, too, should be a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Tagovailoa never won the award like Jackson did in 2019 at Louisville, but both quarterbacks have established themselves as two of the NFL’s top playmakers.
Jackson and Tagovailo will face off when the Ravens host the Dolphins in a high-stakes game on New Year’s Eve that will help decide the top seed in the AFC playoffs.
Jackson knows it will be a tough battle against his Miami counterpart.
“His game is great,” Jackson said. “He’s a phenomenal quarterback. He just has to keep doing what he’s doing – just not this week.”
Jackson and Tagovailoa are both MVP candidates.
Jackson has passed for 3,357 yards with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also leads all NFL quarterbacks with 786 yards rushing and another five scores.
Tagovailoa leads the league with 4,214 yards passing with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Jackson knew that Tagovailoa was going to be a great NFL player when he first watched him in college.
Tagovailoa did win a national championship as a true freshman in 2018 when he replaced Jalen Hurts in the game against Georgia. Tagovailoa threw the game-winning 41-yard touchdown pass in overtime to wide receiver DeVonta Smith that sealed a 26–23 victory. Hurts and Smith are now teammates with the Eagles.
“Tua is a phenomenal player,” Jackson said. “I don’t know if [Alabama] was playing Georgia in the [CFP] National Championship Game when I think they took one quarterback out and put him in. [Tua then] threw the game-winning touchdown. After that, I was like, ‘He’s amazing.’ I just fell in love with his game then and his poise in the games in situations. I believed he was going to win the Heisman [Trophy] one year. I messaged him, and I was like, ‘You need to win a Heisman. I voted for you.’ “
The Ravens can clinch the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the postseason with a win over Miami. The Ravens will also clinch the AFC North title with a win or tie and a Browns loss or tie against the Jets.
The Dolphins can clinch the AFC East division title with a win or tie and a loss or tie by the Bills against the Patriots. The Dolphins cannot officially clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs until the final week of the regular season when they host Buffalo.
The Ravens are favored by four against Miami, but Jackson is not looking at the game that way.
“I believe we’ve got a bunch of guys who’ve been doubted, a bunch of guys who’ve got things to prove – on our team – on both sides of the ball,” he said. “So, I believe, anytime we’re the underdogs, we’re going to always rise to the occasion. But we’ve got to stay locked in to do that.
“We’re the underdogs. We’re the underdogs.”