BALTIMORE – Lamar Jackson is such a dynamic athlete that Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury knew some self-inflicted errors would be needed to slow the Ravens quarterback down.
They didn’t happen often on Sunday.
Jackson was impressive both with his legs and his arm, completing 24-of-37 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns while adding 120 rushing yards at 7.5 yards per carry to lead Baltimore to a 23-17 win.
Jackson had a perfect passer rating in Baltimore’s season opener in Miami, and while he wasn’t that good against the Cardinals, his improved accuracy made life tough on the defense.
“Y’all watched Lamar make great throws all day from the pocket,” Kingsbury said. “He’s improved dramatically there. You’ve got to tip your hat to him. He’s staying in there and throwing it. He can beat you that way, and beat you with his legs. He’s going to be hard to handle for anybody.”
Jackson helped seal the win by throwing a 41-yard strike to Marquise Brown on third-and-11 when the Cardinals needed a stop to get the ball back. Cornerback Tramaine Brock had nice coverage on the play but Jackson sat in the pocket and delivered a perfectly placed ball.
“It was an excellent play,” linebacker Haason Reddick said. “They made one more play than we did, and that’s how it is. This is the NFL. Everybody can make plays. It’s just about who is going to make the play, so, yes, hat’s off to him. That was a great play and he’s a great quarterback.”
The Cardinals had a couple of chances at interceptions on tipped passes. The biggest one came late in the fourth quarter when cornerback Byron Murphy deflected a ball into the air and safety Budda Baker dove for the ball but couldn't get there in time.
Jackson didn’t make many mistakes, and linebacker Jordan Hicks said the Ravens had an answer to the different ways the Cardinals tried to make him uncomfortable.
“When we took one thing away, they did another,” Hicks said. “When we took that thing away, they did the other. It’s part of the chess match. Obviously there were some plays we wish we had back, but we’ve just got to keep grinding.”
Jackson was ultra-effective on read-option keepers, often turning the corner and picking up big yardage. And then when he didn’t run, the threat of it made life difficult on those in coverage.
“He’s a special runner,” Reddick said. “Anytime you’ve got a guy like that, you try to be conscious of everything he can do. That way you can be in the best position possible if he does break contain.”
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was with the Ravens last year when Jackson was a rookie, when Jackson was clearly more dangerous running the ball. Now he sees a more well-rounded player that is a true dual threat.
“He’s a phenomenal athlete, and it’s good to see him grow,” Suggs said.
Images from the Cardinals' Week 2 game in Baltimore