Lamar Jackson spent the first three quarters running through the Cleveland Browns – 124 yards and two touchdowns (at least once he got the right cleats, of course).
He then spent much of the fourth in the locker room – with many in the audience watching television and online and wondering (and joking) if he was gone because of what was going through him.
Jackson said it wasn’t what everyone thought, he actually got IVs to treat cramps. That and some stretching.
“I didn’t pull Paul Pierce,” Jackson said. “I had cramps.”
Pierce is the great Boston Celtics who have admitted to having temporarily bored an injury, including the famous wheelchair ride, in Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals because “I just had to go to the bathroom” before returning to the game and became the hero.
The cramp story is more likely than the bathroom story. And it makes sense, although in this game, this Monday night of entertainment between Lamar’s Ravens and Baker Mayfield’s Browns, everything was right because nothing was right.
After all, the NFL’s reigning MVP was asked about his bathroom schedule after the game. Serious.
“Reality is stranger than fiction,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
Well, here was Baltimore’s reality at Monday’s two-minute warning.
Cleveland was left 35-34. A loss would decimate the Ravens’ already shaky playoff odds. Jackson was in the locker room doing whatever. His backup, Trace McSorley, was on the floor with a knee injury. The distance down was fourth-and-5.
That’s about as dire as a team can get.
“We say, ‘Okay, what’s going to happen?'”, JK Dobbins ran back.
Lamar the Star is what happened.
“I’m catching an attitude because it’s not going the way we wanted it to,” Jackson said of watching the game as he stretched out in the locker room. “[I decided]”I have to go outside.” “
So just at the right time, cramps apparently under control, he came out jogging. This was a terrible situation to return to, but again, this is Lamar Jackson.
He took the snap, fell back to pass, avoided a blitz, got out of his pocket and looked like he would easily gallop down for a first time.
Only instead of running, he stopped and hit an open Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (who had shed most of the night) for a 44-meter touchdown. Dobbins then survived a violent collision to convert the two-point game and give Baltimore a 42-35 lead.
“Like a movie,” said Dobbins.
Yes, except that Cleveland has its own storybook season. The Browns entered the game 9-3 with a chance to take Pittsburgh (11-2) and win their first division championship since 1989. Cleveland collapsed in games like this one. Not anymore.
“This team is fighting,” Mayfield said.
Baker and co did not blink. Playing four times, 75 yards and 47 seconds later, the Browns were right on 42 when Kareem Hunt scored the game’s 12th touchdown.
Cleveland’s problem? It scored so quickly it left Jackson with 1:04 and a timeout. He quickly completed four consecutive passes for 38 yards, then watched Justin Tucker of the Ravens’ ultra-clutch drill a 55-yard field goal with 0:02 to give the Ravens a 45-42 lead.
It should have been, but of course it couldn’t be. Not in this game.
Cleveland took over at his own 25-yard line, executing a desperate play that consisted of one completed pass, two laterals, and four fumbles (all recovered by the Browns). Each exchange continued to push them back until Jarvis Landry was finally pushed out of the back end zone for safety.
Final standings, Baltimore 47, Cleveland 42, most combined points in the NFL this season.
Not only did the Ravens score five points in two seconds of game action (you don’t see that every day), and an NFL game ended with a safety (you haven’t seen that since 2016) but that last two points pointless to many important, since the most common betting spreads were either Ravens -3 or -3.5 (you can see those kind of bad beats every week on Scott Van Pelt’s “SportsCenter” segments).
If there are a few extra presents under the tree in Maryland (and a few less in Ohio), you know why.
This doesn’t even account for the countless fantasy matchups that were swinging while scoring 20 combined points … in the final 1:51 of the game.
In real life, Baltimore is 8-5 and very much back in the playoff chase. It survived COVID-19 outbreaks, crazy schedules (including a Wednesday afternoon game) and now a game in Cleveland where the Ravens’ two best quarterbacks were knocked out of the game, at least for a while.
They survived because Jackson narrowly came through and emerged from a dressing room that may or may not be innocent. Really, who knows? What does it matter right now?
On a night where legends and legendary speculations were made in the dressing room, this was a show to enjoy, not to question.
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