Lamar Jackson was far from great on Tuesday night at M&T Bank Stadium, but in his return from the COVID-19 reserve list and a one-game absence against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, Jackson was able to toy with the Cowboys for much of the evening.
Baltimore easily dropped Dallas to 3-9 in coach Mike McCarthy's first season with a 34-17 knockout of the Cowboys. And now, in another first ... another loss: Owner Jerry Jones' Cowboys have just been yanked off of national TV.
On Wednesday, the NFL announced its Week 15 schedule changes, and central to those: they are moving 49ers vs. Cowboys out of Sunday Night Football via its flex option.
Who would the country rather watch, in the minds of the powers that be?
Browns vs. Giants.
In fairness to them, Giants-Browns features two teams in the thick of the playoff race. The 49ers-Cowboys game is now a nooner ... and seriously, maybe having to watch Dallas plod through its effort in Baltimore is a factor here.
“I still can’t really taste or smell, but I’m good,” Jackson said of his COVID-robbed senses. “I feel good to be back with my guys. It was like two weeks I ain’t seen them.”
Jackson is a great runner and we saw that again as he tore up the Cowboys porous run defense with a Ft. McHenry/Baltimore sized tunnel to run through on a fourth-down keeper for a 37-yard touchdown.
That play normally would be the play of the night but quite honestly, the success was expected and the degree of difficulty was less than high.
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Jackson has a 38-yard touchdown pass to Myles Boykin but that seemed more like busted coverage on Dallas more than anything.
It seemed like Leighton Vander Esch was involved (negatively) on both plays.
The most difficult and therefore the most impactful play of the night for the Ravens in their win was Jackson circling away to his left from a bit of pressure after a pump fake to the right while Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown won an Oscar for best supporting role by spinning out of his comeback route, freeing himself and catching a beautifully-thrown touchdown pass from Jackson in the corner of the end zone.
Jackson didn't even set his feet upon throwing. It was a simple flick-of-the-wrist type throw with great accuracy. Great anticipation and communication on the throw also stood out.
It was only a 20-yard scoring strike but it was much longer in air yards and execution.
The Cowboys (now 3-9) were only down by seven at the time and you just got the sense that no matter what Dallas did, Baltimore was going to be able to toy with them all night.
Jackson only finished with 107 passing yards on 17 attempts and had several ugly ducks. He finished with 94 rushing yards overall and was far from MVP form - but when he had to be on, he was.
And in total, Lamar plus three running backs? A staggering 294 rushing yards. Oh, but Dallas gave up 307 to the Browns in October, so two of the three most porous run-stopping efforts in Cowboys history have come this season.
Said Dallas coach Mike McCarthy: “I think today was obviously a different challenge than we’ve seen. This is a unique offense. A very physical offensive line and the dynamic of the combination of the running backs and Lamar.”
Also unique: The Dallas Cowboys being tugged off of national TV. But ... welcome to 2020, we suppose.