Opinion: Lamar Jackson’s highlights have become NFL’s must-see TV

BALTIMORE — Halfway through the third quarter at M&T Bank Stadium, with the rout already well in hand, there was but one more issue to be settled: What would Lamar Jackson do?

These Ravens games now are not complete until Jackson leaves the faithful with something to remember, something to talk about Monday at the water cooler, something to take the breath away.

The snapshot from Sunday was classic Jackson, as much as you can consider anything from a 22-year-old in his second NFL season as classic. He made five Texans miss during a 39-yard run, finally brought down by the sixth one. Two Texans collided, Keystone Kops style. The run started as a loss, then included a quick cut inside, a spin, a stutter-step, an acceleration, two more cuts and a dash up the middle. Near the end, Jackson went low and bounced off a defender, shoulder-to-shoulder.

“That was remarkable,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after the 41-7 blowout lifted his team to 8-2. “Incredible. I’ve never seen one like that. Except for last week.”

Lamar Jackson is just on a different level.

(Via @Ravens) pic.twitter.com/HNNn4dzGj3

The previous week at Cincinnati, Jackson had a 47-yard touchdown dash that included a 360-degree spin move.

“I said it last week, everybody in the country will see it by tomorrow afternoon,” Harbaugh said. “That holds true for this one, too.”

Said Mark Ingram, “He just keeps one-upping himself each week. It should have been a loss and he made one guy miss, cuts back on another, trucks another.”

You can hold your breath waiting for the next big Lamar moment. Ingram’s heart almost stopped when he saw Jackson take the shot at the end of the big run. For the next two plays, he was in the quarterback’s ear, telling him, “I’ve got to have you go down.”

That exchange tells us a couple of things. The veteran undoubtedly cares about the well-being of the young quarterback. And everybody knows a meal ticket when they see one. The Ravens have increasingly grown this season into a complete team that is thriving with complementary football – the defense collected seven sacks on Sunday – but it all starts with Jackson. Or “New Era 8,” as Ingram called him as he introduced him to the press.

“He was steadily coming up to me, ‘You’ve got to get down,’ ” Jackson said of Ingram. “Actually, on the field. But I could. The guy was chasing me on the right side. I looked over, and (No.) 20 cut me off.”

Jackson has actually done an impressive job of avoiding hits as he’s rushed for a team-high 788 yards this season, including 86 on nine carries vs. Houston. And he’s quick to maintain that he’d rather throw for touchdowns than run for scores, which was the case on Sunday when all four of his TDs came off passes, with zero picks and a 139.2 passer rating in throwing for 222 yards.

Or, as he cracked, referencing the pre-draft chatter that he should switch positions, “I’d rather throw it than run it … since I’m a running back.”

Jackson has passed for 19 TDs with just 5 interceptions through 10 games, while his 106.3 pass efficiency rating ranks among the top 5 in the league. Yet he’s also one 100-yard rushing game away from setting an NFL single-season record for quarterbacks.

Yes, he’s a quarterback with an arm that at one point completed 13 consecutive passes.

But boy, can he run. Just check the highlights, week after week.

“We’ve seen it since he was in pee wee (football),” said Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon, one of the defensive stars on Sunday with two sacks of Deshaun Watson.

“He’s been posting his pee-wee stuff! And it’s the same Lamar!”

Which means something else is coming next week. Just wait on it.

Follow Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.

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