Seahawks Fall Victim to Lamar Jackson Experience
Going into Sunday’s contest against the Ravens, Russell Wilson had been the best quarterback on the field in every one of the Seahawks first six games, building a compelling MVP case while guiding his team to a 5-1 start.
But thanks to electric second-year signal caller Lamar Jackson stealing the show and functioning like a cheat code on a Madden video game, that narrative changed in a 30-16 Week 7 defeat.
“He’s really special out there, especially on some third downs and stuff.” Wilson said during his post-game press conference. “He’s had a great season, he’s been playing great and I always loved watching him in college and talked to him after the game, so he’s a tremendous football player.”
Normally after games, Wilson is the one receiving such lofty praise after leading yet another comeback victory or posting a perfect passer rating. But Jackson stole the show in Seattle, showcasing his unique talents in one of the marquee matchups of the young season.
Running around and zipping past Seahawks defenders, Jackson consistently escaped the pocket and found daylight, extending drive after drive as a running threat unlike any the league has seen at the position since Michael Vick. By the time the clock expired, he’d rushed for 116 yards on 14 carries, with two of those being kneel downs.
As echoed by coach Pete Carroll and many of his teammates, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney felt Jackson’s speed in game action surpassed what they saw on film, making him a nightmare to try to contain. He grew frustrated because Seattle’s rushers couldn’t risk leaving their rushing lane out of fear he’d burn them with another explosive run.
“I always wanted to play against Michael Vick,” Clowney said. “I guess I’m getting the new era with Lamar Jackson right there. I’m a fan of him though. He’s still a great player, did his thing today and won the game.”
Seattle held Jackson to “only” 45 rushing yards on five carries during the first two quarters of action. After halftime, however, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner took over and carried the Ravens with his legs.
Knotted up at 13 apiece midway through the third quarter, Seattle made a questionable decision to attempt a 53-yard field goal in the rain instead of going for it on fourth and three at the Ravens 35-yard line. Jason Myers had enough distance on the kick, but it sliced to the right outside the goal post.
Looking to exploit excellent starting field position, Jackson orchestrated an 11-play, 57-yard drive that chewed up most of the final six minutes remaining in the third quarter. Facing third and 15 from Seattle’s 21-yard line, the elusive quarterback wiggled and powered his way to a 13-yard gain, setting up a tough decision for coach John Harbaugh.
Initially, the Ravens were going to attempt a field goal. But after a timeout to talk things over, Jackson persuaded Harbaugh to go for it. Putting the ball back into their star quarterback’s hands, he exploded through a narrow hole for an eight-yard touchdown to put Baltimore in front 20-13.
Playing in his first game back from suspension, defensive tackle Jarran Reed reiterated how much stress Jackson puts on a defense, as his innate ability to create yardage as a runner leaves no margin for error.
“You have to stay sound. You have to stay disciplined. You have to stay in your gap.” Reed said. “You have to execute very well each play, each down throughout the whole game because the one time you don’t, he’s going to split it wide open. And that happened a couple times tonight.”
Unfortunately, Reed and the Seahawks had multiple breakdowns on their next defensive possession.
Penalties pushed the Ravens back to the shadow of their own end zone, but on third and eight with the pocket collapsing on him and six rushers in pursuit, Jackson darted up the middle and exploded past linebacker Bobby Wagner for a back-breaking 30-yard gain. Two plays later, Jackson made multiple tacklers whiff in space after avoiding a sack by Clowney and raced for another 13-yard pickup.
Baltimore eventually chewed up nine minutes of clock on the drive before Justin Tucker tacked on a 22-yard field goal to extend the lead to 23-13 with only 3:47 left to play in regulation, putting a dagger into Seattle’s comeback chances.
While Jackson proved to be too much for the Seahawks to handle on Sunday, Carroll isn’t overreacting to the loss. Despite getting gashed by quarterback scrambles, his defense still held the Ravens to just 16 points and one offensive touchdown, which is normally good enough to pick up a win with Wilson at the helm.
“I thought the defense played really good and hard [other than] those exceptional plays that game off the scrambles. We just have to find another way to get him down. Sometimes you do, and sometimes you don’t, and we weren’t able to do it enough.”
It’s yet another lesson this young Seahawks team can learn from through adversity heading towards the midway point of the season. And the best news? Carroll won’t have to game plan for the rare talent again this year unless it’s for the Super Bowl in February, presenting a chance at redemption he and his players would be thrilled to accept.