The Baltimore Ravens pulled off a 14-point second-half comeback yesterday to beat the Minnesota Vikings, holding onto first place in the AFC North despite losing starting safety DeShon Elliott to a season-ending injury.
“He’s a fighter and he’s a finisher,” said inside linebacker Patrick Queen of his superstar teammate, who noted that critics have long tried to “label” Jackson as a quarterback who can’t overcome large deficits.
But Queen thinks this season is proving that narrative wrong, saying “He came back three times this year, so hats off to him.”
Head coach John Harbaugh praised Jackson’s poise despite being down by two possessions: “He doesn’t get flustered. He sees the field so well, he gives every play to give the maximum opportunity to be successful.”
“He’s just really good,” Harbaugh concluded with a chuckle.
That description might be an understatement; Jackson’s 386 combined passing and rushing yards were more than three-fourths of Baltimore’s total offensive production. He looked virtually unstoppable at times, finding rushing lanes, passing windows and scramble opportunities no matter what the Vikings defense threw at him.
Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown told media that a slow start from the Jackson and the Ravens’ offense wasn’t a concern, saying “With him, the next play could be a touchdown.”
Jackson Redirects Praise to WRs
But the ever-humble Jackson was quick to deflect praise back onto Hollywood Brown, who turned in yet another stellar performance on Sunday.
The former Oklahoma Sooner caught nine of his 12 targets for 116 yards, showing off his blossoming ability to pick up yards after the catch.
“He was turning up!” exclaimed Jackson when asked about his favorite target this season, “He was just doing what Hollywood is supposed to do, primetime!”
But Jackson found able and willing receivers across the offense, completing passes to eight different Ravens on Sunday. He singled out receivers Devin Duvernay and Rashod Bateman for making tough catches in key moments against the Vikings.
“We got young, hungry guys, very talented receivers,” he said while imitating his receivers’ acrobatics.
With Sammy Watkins likely to return from a hamstring injury for Thursday’s game against the Miami Dolphins, the Ravens’ thriving receiver corps is one of the reasons why disgruntled Cleveland Browns wideout Odell Beckham Jr. is unlikely to land in Baltimore.
Ravens Fullback Shines Through the Air
The Ravens also got some unexpected help in the passing game from fullback Patrick Ricard, who caught three passes for a career-high 35 yards and a touchdown, all on the same drive in the third quarter.
“Pat Ricard was responsible for one drive by himself, in the passing game!” exclaimed Harbaugh after the game.
The fifth-year fullback has been a crucial blocker in Baltimore’s offense this season, especially with tight end Nick Boyle yet to return from last year’s knee injury.
His blocking responsibilities and history as a defensive player cause most opposing defenses to ignore him as a receiver. But with reliable hands and the ability to steamroll would-be tacklers with his 300-pound frame, Ricard is a sneaky receiving threat out of the Ravens’ backfield.
Stellar performances from role players like Ricard are a huge reason that the Ravens sit atop the AFC North despite a brutal stretch of injuries this season.