Still a great comeback, though
When Lamar Jackson retreated to the locker room in the fourth quarter on Monday night, he was moving with a sense of urgency. But it wasn’t the sort of smooth speed we’ve become accustomed to seeing him run with. His tense jog looked familiar to anyone who’s ever gotten stuck in traffic and needed to hustle to a bathroom.
The Ravens announced that Jackson was questionable to return due to cramps, but that didn’t stop all sorts of people, including Jackson’s backup, Robert Griffin III, from joking that the cramps were a cover story for something else. They were playing the Browns, after all. The jokes write themselves.
Cleveland took the lead while Jackson was in the locker room handling whatever he needed to handle and it fell to Trace McSorely to lead the Baltimore comeback. (Griffin is on injured reserve after injuring his hamstring last week.)
But McSorely was injured on the final play before the two-minute warning and Jackson came to the rescue.
On his first play back, a fourth-and-5 with the Ravens trailing by one point, Jackson found Marquise Brown for a go-ahead touchdown. (The ensuing two-point conversion was also ripe for jokes.)
It was a gutsy performance, coming out of the locker room cold to win the game with one play, regardless of why he was missing. After the game, though, Jackson cleared up that he wasn’t taking a 30-minute poop break. He really was cramping.
“I didn’t pull a Paul Pierce, I was cramping,” Jackson told reporters, referring to the infamous moment in the 2008 NBA Finals in which Pierce was taken from the court in a wheelchair with an apparent leg injury only to admit in 2019 that really just needed to use the bathroom.
The cramping, as Jackson tells it, was pretty severe. On the final two passes he threw before his trip to the locker room, Jackson felt his throwing arm cramp up, he said, and told coach John Harbaugh, “I need to get some salt in my system real quick.” After an interception gave Baltimore the ball at the Cleveland 1-yard-line, Jackson handed the ball off to J.K. Dobbins for a touchdown but he felt his legs cramp on the play. That was when he decided he needed to leave the field and get some intravenous fluids.
It might not have been Jackson’s first IV of the night. All game long, he wore a bandage on his left arm, near the elbow, right where you’d receive an IV. Here is a closeup of photo taken during warmups.
Now is probably a good time to mention that Jackson recently recovered from COVID-19. He missed the team’s Week 12 game against the Steelers after contracting the virus. It’s impossible to know how he was affected by the virus—he has certainly played like the usual Lamar Jackson over the past two weeks—but it’s tough to ignore his recent bout with a serious disease when noting that his health kept him off the field for most of the fourth quarter.
Regardless of what caused the cramps, Jackson’s sudden re-emergence and clutch performance in the closing minutes was just the capper on an instant classic of a game. Hopefully it’s not just remembered as the “poop game.”
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