OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Setting NFL records and garnering MVP votes doesn’t mean that much to Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who’s far more interested in stacking wins and getting Baltimore to the Super Bowl.
Jackson stands 23 yards shy of breaking Michael Vick’s single-season record for yards rushing by a quarterback (1,039 in 2006). Although Jackson is practicing this week with a sore quadriceps, his motivation to play Thursday night against the New York Jets has nothing to do with personal glory.
“I’m planning to win the game,” Jackson said Tuesday. “If I’ve got to be out there all four quarters, that’s what it’s going to be.”
Jackson was struck in the leg on Sunday while throwing a 61-yard touchdown pass to tight end Hayden Hurst, a key play in a 24-17 victory over Buffalo that extended Baltimore’s winning streak to nine games and put the Ravens (11-2) on track to finish with the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.
That hit in the pocket did nothing to slow Jackson’s sprint to the end zone to share the occasion with Hurst.
“I was celebrating. It was 100 percent worth it,” said Jackson, who made it clear that the injury is nothing to worry about.
“I feel great. I’m 100,” he declared. Jackson did, however, note that his legs took a pounding the past two weeks in wins over San Francisco and the Bills.
“When I’m on the edge I kind of avoid it all the time,” he said. “But when I’m in the pocket trying to complete a throw, that’s when nine times out of 10 they’re going for my legs. It is what it is.”
He’s not complaining.
“We’re playing football. It’s an aggressive game,” Jackson said. “They’re trying to make a tackle and I’m trying to make them miss.”
The 22-year-old Jackson is enjoying an MVP-caliber season in his second year in the league. His 28 touchdown passes are tops in the NFL, he ranks ninth in yards rushing and he is smoothly directing an offense that averages 408 yards per game.
The accolades and awards and records might be worth celebrating in late February. For now, Jackson just wants to keep the Ravens on a hot streak.
“He just wants to win games. He’s been telling me that since last year,” Baltimore receiver Willie Snead said. “Whatever comes with it, that’s what comes with it. But at the end of the day, his goal, our goal is to win the Super Bowl. That’s what we’re working for.”
Jackson won a Heisman Trophy at Louisville in 2016 because of his running ability. When he was drafted No. 32 overall by Baltimore in 2018, he was determined to master passing, too. Jackson has improved immensely from his rookie year but he’s not perfect yet — even though he earned a perfect quarterback rating this season in wins over Miami and Cincinnati.
“He gets (ticked) off when he runs for touchdowns because he wants to throw touchdowns,” Snead said. “He wants to be a quarterback. He wants to prove to everyone that he can be an elite passer as well as an elite runner when he has to be.
“He will probably tell you, I can get so much better. That’s the mindset that makes him so great right now at a young age. He wants to get better every week, and we’re going to help him get there.”
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