Mike Tomlin on Lamar Jackson: 'We respect him but do not fear him' originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
When Lamar Jackson dropped back to pass for just the second time on Sunday, it was Pittsburgh linebacker Robert Spillane who intercepted the throw and returned it for six the other way.
That set the tone for the rest of the heavyweight bout.
Though Jackson rebounded from that initial setback, he never really got into a rhythm offensively. Several missed throws, a few inopportune turnovers, and one poor performance from Jackson plagued the Ravens' chances at claiming the top spot in the AFC North. It was an uncharacteristically woeful performance from the 2019 unanimous NFL MVP, but Jackson has struggled against Pittsburgh's defense before.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin knows this.
"We respect him but we do not fear him," Tomlin said postgame. "We're not surprised by anything that transpired."
In fact, judging from Jackson's overall experience playing in this historic rivalry, the numbers do not lie.
Lamar Jackson in 1.5 games as a starter vs. the Steelers:
245 passing yards
52.1 QB rating
— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) November 1, 2020
Entering this Sunday, Jackson had only one start against the Ravens' archrivals. When Jackson took over a starting quarterback midway through the 2018 season, the Ravens had already split their season series with the Steelers. Last season, the Ravens were already resting their starters by Week 17 as Robert Griffin III gave Jackson a rest.
So, in the one game Jackson started against the Steelers he threw three interceptions but ended up winning in dramatic fashion, 26-23. This time around, Jackson threw two interceptions (one a pick-six), lost a fumble in the red zone, and ended up losing in even more of a dramatic finale, 24-28.
Jackson's biggest criticism of his young career thus far has been underwhelming performances with the spotlight on him. Think two first-round playoff exits, two primetime losses to Kansas City, and now yet another tough outing against the daunting Steelers defense.