So, the Pittsburgh Steelers are pretty happy with where things are, overall. They are 7-5, which is fantastic considering that they were 0-3 two months ago, and then 1-4. And also 5-5. That’s all great for them, given where they’ve come from. But boy are the Baltimore Ravens having themselves a season.
Having just taken down the one-loss San Francisco 49ers, the AFC North-leading Ravens are now 10-2 on the season, having won eight consecutive games, which is the longest winning streak in franchise history. They are the highest-scoring offense in the league, and just broke their own franchise record for the most points in a season—with a quarter of the season left to play.
That’s largely thanks to the ridiculous and routinely highlight-reel-worthy performances of second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has made a lot of pre-draft critics look dumb. The 32nd-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft is now 16-3 as a starter, and he’s making history as well.
Yesterday, in wet, slippery conditions, he only threw for 105 yards with one touchdown on 14 of 23 passing (Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t fare much better), but he was yet again a weapon on the ground, rushing for 101 yards and another touchdown on 16 carries.
He is now the first quarterback in NFL history to have recorded four games of 100 or more rushing yards in a single season, something that even Michael Vick never accomplished. And he will soon break Vick’s all-time record for the most rushing yards in a single season by a quarterback as well.
Vick rushed for 1039 yards on 123 attempts with two touchdowns during the 2006 season. That wasn’t a good year for the Atlanta Falcons, as they finished 7-9, third in their division, and out of the postseason. So perhaps it’s all the more remarkable that Jackson is doing this while quarterbacking arguably the best team in football right now.
At the moment, he has 977 rushing yards on the season, so he needs just 23 to become just the second quarterback in NFL history to record 1000 rushing yards in a season. He is, in fact, on pace to shatter that record, as if he continues to average his current total, he will finish with over 1300 rushing yards.
He already entered the day tied with Russell Wilson for the most touchdown passes on the season with 24. He has beaten Wilson’s Seattle Seahawks, Tom Brady’s New England Patriots, and now the 49ers on top of that.
Anything other than Jackson ending this season as the league MVP at this point would be a surprise. That’s not to say that he and the Ravens are unbeatable and are fated to win the Super Bowl. They have vulnerabilities that teams have struggled to take advantage of. But they’ll be one tough out, and Jackson is sometimes a Get Out of Jail Free card with what he can create on his own.