Ravens Lamar Jackson on C.J. Stroud: ‘He played better than I did from my rookie playoff game’

OWINGS MILLS — Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is impressed with Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud.

Jackson took time this week to praise Stroud’s performance in Houston’s 45-14 victory over the Cleveland Browns in the wild-card round of the playoffs.

Jackson said Stroud showed more poise in his first playoff game than he did against the Chargers in 2018.

“From my experience, he played better than I did from my rookie playoff game, I would say that,” Jackson said. “He was throwing the ball all over the field, making things happen. He did great. He did great.”

Stroud threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns against Cleveland and became the youngest quarterback to win a playoff game.

The Ravens mostly contained Stroud in a 25-9 victory over the Texans in Week 1. Stroud was 28-for-44 for 242 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. The Ravens kept him under constant pressure and sacked him five times.

Stroud has gotten significantly better since that game. If he were to pass for 281 yards on Saturday, Stroud (4,382) would break the NFL rookie record for most passing yards, including the postseason, in NFL history. The Ravens-Texans matchup will begin at 4:30 on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium.

“We were really impressed the first game,” Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald said about Stroud. “We knew going into the game that … If you remember me talking about it back then – we didn’t feel like you were going against a rookie at that point. So, you’re just seeing the natural progression over the course of the season just being more comfortable in the system. You can tell the system’s growing around him, and they’ve evolved as we have as well.

“I think that’s what you’re seeing, but [I] definitely have a lot of respect for what they’re doing and how he operates.”  

The Texans’ defense is also playing at a higher level.

Houston cornerback Steven Nelson and linebacker Christian Harris returned interceptions for touchdowns on consecutive drives in the third quarter against Browns quarterback Joe Flacco to break open a 24-14 game. The Texans’ run defense finished sixth in the NFL, allowing 96.6 yards per game.

The Texans and Ravens both have improved since the season opener.

“We have changed a lot as well, just getting better and better, with our scheme and just being one unit,” Jackson said. “We added a bunch of new pieces as well on offense. We are definitely getting in sync now.”


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