The Baltimore Ravens were the best team in football at the end of the season once they clinched the No. 1 seed, and Lamar Jackson seemed fully deserving of a second league MVP award.
Although Lamar and the Ravens had to knock a bit of rust off during a tense first half, the dynamic quarterback responded with his best half of playoff football to date, and Baltimore dominated the Houston Texans 34-10 to advance to the AFC Championship Game.
Lamar sported a 68.3 career postseason passer rating entering Saturday’s contest. Not great and not terribly Quarterbacky of him to do. Can’t say he was doing much to dispel the narrative early on, either.
His brain was in a total pretzel when Texans coach DeMeco Ryans blitzed him at a much higher rate than usual. Ryans’ schematic curveball, combined with a punt return TD by Steven Sims, helped Houston grind out a 10-10 tie at the midway point.
The Texans blitzed on 13 of 18 dropbacks in the first half (72.2%), generating 10 pressures and 3 sacks on blitzes.
Entering today, DeMeco Ryans had never blitzed on a majority of dropbacks in a game during his 3 seasons as a defensive play caller.#HOUvsBAL | #WeAreTexans
The Texans have a bright future, but Baltimore’s Super Bowl window is right now. The home team played like it. Lamar was a straight-up stud who started getting the ball out fast against Houston’s pressure, not to mention gashing the defense with his legs all afternoon in critical situations.
LAMAR RUNS IN.@Ravens come out strong to start the second half.
Just tough to contain a guy like Lamar, especially with the somewhat lackluster defensive personnel the Texans have. Meanwhile, Lamar’s counterpart, rookie phenom CJ Stroud, was under siege the whole game and doesn’t have the quality o-line Lamar does to handle that kind of heat. Look out for Houston to reload, recalibrate and come back with a vengeance next season now that they know how good they already are. There’s a decent chance they just lost to the eventual Super Bowl champs.
Even as a Bengals guy, I can acknowledge that this was a breakthrough for Lamar, and that the Ravens are officially formidable. They’ve done a whole lot of falling short in the playoffs of late, having not made it past the Divisional Round since their Super Bowl in the 2012 season.
All of a sudden, the narrative has changed, and Lamar stans will be getting crunk off the sweet/salty Scott Tenorman tears of his haters.
Here are some of the best reactions from across the Internet. We have a wide sampler of many spectators, from the likes of LeBron James to your standard meme artists who are loving to see this from the Ravens superstar QB.