Lamar Jackson: ‘We just got to finish’

Lamar Jackson had a great season. Even though he and his Baltimore Ravens teammates came up a game short of playing in the Super Bowl, Jackson and the Ravens have nothing to hang their heads about. 

Yes, Jackson and the Ravens missed some opportunities that might have changed the outcome of an eventual 17-10 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, but they competed and fought to the end. In sports, there is always someone who wins and someone who ends up on the other side of that equation. 

“We had some opportunities out there,” Jackson said in a postgame interview following the Ravens and Chiefs matchup. “You know, just got to take advantage of them. can’t turn the ball over…fumble, interception, stuff like that. I gave them opportunities to put points on the board and win the game.”

“We get in that red zone, it’s been ours (touchdown) all season, you know. We just got to finish. We didn’t do a good job of finishing. The defense did a wonderful job and held a great offense to 17 points. We got to execute. We scored one touchdown, and that’s not like us, Jackson added.”

It was a tough and bitter defeat for Jackson and the Ravens. After all, the Ravens were the most dominant team all season. Jackson is most likely set to win his second NFL Most Valuable Player Award. 

Some people, though, will debate and argue that the season was a complete bust for Jackson and the Ravens outside of winning the championship. There are some people- because Jackson has become the face of what a dual-threat quarterback looks like, who believe that Jackson will never reach and conquer the ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl because of his style of play. 

That’s being nice about the matter. I would disagree. Jackson is coming off completing his sixth year in the league. In those six years, he would have earned two MVP awards, rushed for 1,000 yards or more twice, played in six playoff games, and led his team to the conference title game. 

There are quite a few quarterbacks who don’t have the kind of resume that Jackson has. And yet, Jackson is an easy target for the haters. That’s because his style of play is not conventional. To get to the point, Jackson is a running quarterback. He can hurt a team with his arm or his feet. 

Critics of Jackson who don’t think he is the quarterback type to lead his team to the Super Bowl are not basing their analogy on fact and the true difficulty of winning a playoff game at the NFL level. 

Let’s take a look at the journey of two-time Super Bowl winner Peyton Manning as an example. 

Manning is one of the more prolific passers to make his way to the NFL. Manning came into the league in 1998. His stat line reads like this: 71,940 yards, 539 touchdowns, 14 Pro Bowls, and 18 seasons. 

Manning, who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, lost his first three playoff games, including putting a blank on the scoreboard in a 41-0 defeat to the New York Jets.   

Eventually, Manning got to the Super Bowl and came up victorious twice. But it was not until he was in his eighth season in the NFL that Manning could claim that he was a champion after leading the Indianapolis Colts to a 29-17 win against the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. 

This season, Jackson passed for 3,678 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also added another 821 yards and five scores running the football. The end result is not what Jackson, the Ravens, and their fans may have hoped for, but advancing to the conference championship game is something not too many teams can brag about. 

For Jackson and the Ravens, this is progress and a wonderful achievement. Before playing the Chiefs, Jackson had not taken the Ravens to the AFC title game. At least it’s a step in the direction that Jackson and the Ravens hope will lead to an eventual Super Bowl berth. Perhaps the loss to Kansas City will fuel Jackson and the Ravens on another deep postseason but with better results.  

“We mad, you know,” Jackson said. “We got to this position, one game from the Super Bowl that we all…what I had been talking about all season, my team had been talking about all season, and we fell short. And like I said, offense, we didn’t put nothing on the board. We scored once. That’s not like us.”

Top Photo Caption: BALTIMORE, MD – JANUARY 28: Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) avoids the pressure of Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed (38) during the Kansas City Chiefs game versus the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game on January 28, 2024 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)

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