Thu, 26 Nov 2020

Lamar Jackson's Answer to Pulling Off Comebacks

Baltimore Ravens
01 Oct 2020, 23:25 GMT+10

Ryan Mink

Lamar Jackson hasn't needed to mount many comebacks during his young NFL career, which features 21 wins to just six losses. That's a very good thing for the Ravens and speaks to his overall dominance.

But Monday night's game against the Kansas City Chiefs was another case of Jackson and the Ravens not being able to mount a comeback when falling behind.

Jackson is now 0-5 as a starter when the Ravens have trailed by double digits at any point in a game and 0-4 when down by at least 10 at halftime. Baltimore mounted a comeback against the Chiefs on "Monday Night Football," pulling to within seven points in the fourth quarter, but couldn't finish it off.

"We try to avoid that as much as we can - a. Then b. - we have to figure out how to win those games," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday.

"Look at the Chiefs; we can learn from our opponents. The Chiefs have figured that one out. They have come back and won numerous games when they've been down by even a lot more than 10. They're 6-0 when down 10 since through last year. That's why they're the defending champions. And that's something that we're going to do our best to try to figure out."

The Ravens fell behind the Tennessee Titans in last year's divisional playoffs and couldn't pull out of it. The Chiefs trailed the Houston Texans, 24-0, in their divisional playoff game and came roaring back. The Chiefs also trailed by 10 points in the AFC Championship and Super Bowl and came back to win.

To its credit, Baltimore hasn't been in many such situations. The Ravens were masters at jumping out to leads during their 14-win season last year, scoring the most first-quarter points of any team in the NFL. Then they used their battering run game to continue to wear down opponents and control the clock.

When things haven't started well for the Ravens, however, they've often stalled. Jackson's solution? Start hot, stay hot.

"We just can't get in those situations of being behind," Jackson said. "We've just got to try to score each and every drive like we should be. And if we're down, just try to execute the plays and try to move forward and put points on the board and make a comeback."

The doubters' argument against Jackson's ability to come back from deficits is that he's not a traditional passer. If he has to throw to score points quickly, can he do it?

What that ignores is the improvements Jackson has made with his accuracy. Just a week ago, the NFL landscape was raving about how much Jackson has improved as a passer. One game doesn't eliminate that progress.

"Lamar is great at drop-back passing," running back Mark Ingram II said. "He's accurate. [The Chiefs] just played sound, disciplined defense."

Jackson has come close to leading the Ravens back before, including against the Chiefs. In Week 3 last year at Arrowhead Stadium, the Ravens trailed Kansas City, 23-6, at halftime. Jackson took over in the second half, including a spinning 9-yard touchdown run with about two minutes left to pull the Ravens to within five points. But the Ravens couldn't get a stop on the next drive and they lost, 33-28.

Often, a comeback has to happen with the offense and defense both elevating their games. The Ravens defense recovered a fumble and made a fourth-down stop Monday night to help the offense get going, but didn't muster one more stop after Baltimore cut the Chiefs' lead to seven.

The Ravens' failure to come back from deficits doesn't fall on Jackson's shoulders alone. Dropped passes, protection problems and more also contributed to Monday night's struggles.

Wide receiver Willie Snead IV came to Jackson on the bench late in the loss and said, "We gotta be better, bro. We gotta come back ready to go." Jackson responded, "That's all of us."

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