In a 47-42 victory filled with dramatic twists and game changes, Jackson emerged from the locker room late in the fourth quarter and led a heroic comeback against the Browns in Cleveland. Jackson completed four passes for 38 yards to get in field goal range for Justin Tucker, who nailed a 55-yarder with two seconds remaining to help Baltimore improve to 8-5.
“Making my job a lot easier and the offense’s job a lot easier,” Jackson said of Tucker. “We don’t have to score a touchdown. Some coaches don’t trust their kickers; we put all our faith in ours. We just had to get him in position to kick the field goal, and then automatic Tuck — he did the rest.”
Jackson had missed most of the fourth quarter after running off the field with cramps. During his absence, the Ravens went from leading 34-20 to trailing 35-34.
With two minutes remaining, Ravens backup Trace McSorley had his left knee buckle and Jackson rushed back onto the field. On his first play, Jackson scrambled to his right and hit a receiver aptly nicknamed “Hollywood” (Marquise Brown) for a 44-yard touchdown. It was Jackson’s first career go-ahead touchdown pass in the final two minutes of regulation.
“We were proceeding with Trace and there was really no indication that Lamar was coming back at that point,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “I didn’t know he was on the sideline at that point. I’ll give our trainers credit — they did a great job of getting him out there. … Just the circumstances, with all the things that went on in this game … if you wrote a movie about this, people wouldn’t believe it. They’d say it couldn’t happen. Reality is stranger than fiction, or whatever that saying is. That’s what it is here — it’s just crazy.”
Asked if he would have gone back in had McSorley not been injured, Jackson replied, “I was still coming out no matter what. It was crunch time. It’s win or go home for us right now.”
Jackson, who had earlier set a Monday Night Football record for rushing yards in a game (124), led the comeback with his arm. He completed four consecutive passes to get Tucker in field goal range.
“Of course, there’s a lot of emotion — there’s a lot of feeling that goes into any field goal, but especially one that is going to be the difference in the game,” Tucker said of his winning kick, before acknowledging that if there’s one thing he has learned in his nine years in the league, it’s that “feelings are unimportant.”
“You have to focus on the action of kicking the ball, not the consequence,” Tucker continued. “We’ve been able to do that really well for a long time and tonight we were able to do just that.”
The Ravens added a safety on the final play.
The Ravens now have a 86.5% chance of making the playoffs for a third straight season, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. A loss would have been crushing for Baltimore, which would’ve had only a 37.9% chance.
“It’s a game that’s gonna go down in history, so just proud to be a part of it and really proud of our players,” Harbaugh said.
This wild rally came just eight days after Jackson had returned from the reserve/COVID-19 list. He tested positive for the coronavirus on Thanksgiving and experienced flu-like symptoms, which caused him to sleep for much of his 10-day quarantine.
The Ravens are No. 8 in the seven-team AFC playoff field, but they are positioned for a strong finish. Baltimore’s three remaining games are against the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals, all of whom are a combined 8-30-1 (.218).