Jackson threw for five touchdowns — becoming the first player to do so on his “Monday Night Football” debut — on 15-of-20 passing while totaling 264 yards (169 passing, 95 rushing) before being pulled early in the fourth quarter. He led the Ravens, who improved to 9-2, to touchdowns on all six of his drives.
Monday represented the ninth time this season that Jackson has avoided throwing an interception, and the sixth time that he has thrown multiple touchdown passes.
Here are three things that stood out in Monday night’s game.
1. Vision of greatness — We often rave about Jackson’s legs, and he has impressed with his arm. But he doesn’t get enough credit for his eyes. Monday night, Jackson did a great job of scanning the field, finding holes in the Rams’ zone coverage and delivering precise passes. And his ability to extend plays incorporates field vision and discipline as well. Jackson does a really good job keeping his eyes downfield, even when scrambling away from defenders, enabling him to locate open receivers for off-script plays. This isn’t always easy for young, mobile quarterbacks, because once they make the decision to break the pocket, they often start looking for running lanes and lose sight of downfield receivers. But not Jackson. Again and again, he evaded defenders while maintaining sight of his targets and then delivered drive-extending throws.
2. Confounding attack — The Jackson-led Ravens racked up 480 yards and topped the 40-point mark for the fourth time this season. They racked up 285 rushing yards and 31 first downs. They dominated time of possession (39:56 to 20:04 and didn’t commit a single turnover. But what makes Jackson and the Ravens’ performance that much more impressive is the fact that it came against one of the game’s all-time great defensive minds. Again. First, Jackson embarrassed Bill Belichick in the Ravens’ Week 9 win over the Patriots. Now, he has confounded Wade Phillips. Give offensive coordinator Greg Roman credit for a masterful game plan. It’s just so hard to combat an attack that features such a unique talent in Jackson and a powerful running back like Mark Ingram. The RPOs, the play-action passes, the misdirection —it’s so much to account for, and even when it looks like defenders are in the right positions, Jackson’s special talents elevate his unit further.
3. More than Jackson — This Ravens defense deserves a lot of credit as well, because they the unit thoroughly contained the Rams’ offense. Todd Gurley managed only 22 yards on six carries, Jared Goff managed just 212 passing yards (a significant chunk of which was earned on the final drive with the game out of hand) and threw two interceptions, including one to former teammate Marcus Peters. The Rams couldn’t sustain any type of success, converting just two of nine third-down attempts. Much of this had to do with the aggressive nature of a Baltimore defense that has steadily improved as the season has progressed. The Rams haven’t been their usual potent selves this season, but the explosive potential remains on the roster. But the Ravens took away what the Rams do best, and coach Sean McVay couldn’t find a way to help his unit adjust.
The Ravens have a tough test awaiting on Sunday as the San Francisco 49ers come to town. This San Francisco defense is almost on that same level as the Patriots. But Jackson and Co. did light New England up for 37 points and 372 yards. If they do manage to dictate to the 49ers as they have with nearly every other opponent this season, then you have to seriously consider the Ravens as legitimate Super Bowl contenders.