Football

How QB Lamar Jackson turned his South Florida return into his ‘breaking out’ game

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson celebrates with teammate safety Eric Weddle (32) after his touchdown pass to wide receiver DeVier Posey during fourth quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, in Miami Gardens.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson celebrates with teammate safety Eric Weddle (32) after his touchdown pass to wide receiver DeVier Posey during fourth quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, in Miami Gardens. dsantiago@miamiherald.com

Late in the third quarter of a tied preseason game against the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens first-round pick quarterback Lamar Jackson took the game into his own hands.

It was first and 10 from the Dolphins 19-yard line. Jackson took a snap from the shotgun, faked the handoff to Mark Thompson and maneuvered his way to the right. He shook past defensive end Cameron Malveaux in the backfield, wiggled past safety Jordan Lucas and dove into the end zone before safety Maurice Smith could catch up to him to give Baltimore its first lead of the game.

“I think today was his breaking out,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

Indeed it was. Jackson’s final stat line during the Ravens’ 27-10 win over Miami: 7-for-10 passing, 98 yards (9.8 yards per attempt) and a touchdown to go along with three carries for 39 yards (13 yards per rush) and that decisive third-quarter touchdown scamper.

For context, Jackson completed 14 of 33 attempts (42.4 percent completion) for 168 yards (5.1 yards per attempt) and one touchdown in his first two preseason games, adding 47 rushing yards and another touchdown on nine carries.

“We’ve seen it in practice where he’s done some really good things,” Harbaugh said, “but we hadn’t really seen it in a game yet.”

And what better place for it to happen than in South Florida, where Jackson’s football career began and with a host of family and friends watching from the stands at Hard Rock Stadium?

Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill disappointed with slow start in their defeat to the Baltimore Ravens .

He grew up in Pompano Beach and went to high school at West Palm Beach’s Boynton Beach High before setting records at the collegiate level at Louisville. He won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore in 2016 and became the only player in Football Bowl Subdivision history to throw for 9,000 yards and rush for another 4,000 in just three years. The Ravens traded up in the NFL Draft in May to select Jackson 32nd overall.

“You rarely get a moment like this,” Jackson said of his South Florida return. “There are onlythree NFL teams (in Florida) – Tampa, Jacksonville and the Dolphins – and to play against the Dolphinswas pretty cool. It was one of my favorite teams growing up. Home state.”

And it was against his favorite team that Jackson finally had a chance to make a statement with both his feet and his arm.

After the touchdown run in the third quarter, Jackson orchestrated a six-play, 73-yard drive capped with a 21-yard catch-and run touchdown pass to DeVier Posey.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill takes responsibility for two drop balls in the first quarter of their game against the Baltimore Ravens Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, at Hard Rock Stadium.

“Coach was in my ear a lot aboutcompleting the ball, completing the ball a lot,” Jackson said. “I started 0-for-3 last week and I had completed the firstpass this week, and I was like, ‘No, I can’t have the same results from that.’ That was the key thing forme coming into this week, just keep competing passes and trying to get my percentage up.”

Mission accomplished.

“We came out with the win. That’s what it’s all about,” Jackson said. “When you win, you got your money’s worth no matter what. If it’s one point, a field goal, it doesn’t really matter as long as you get the win. That’s your money’s worth.”

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