With a 20-13 win over the Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has finally won his first playoff game. And with that win, all the talk about Jackson’s playoff record should suddenly get mighty quiet.
Let’s get it right, right out of the gate. All the chirping about Jackson’s playoff record was nothing more than the last grasp at hate. It was a tired narrative that completely discounted everything about Jackson’s game, his accomplishments, or the fact football is a team sport. It was the only remaining retort from a group that had been shut down in every other way and weren’t able to have a meaningful discussion about why Jackson wasn’t worthy of their respect.
Jackson has proven repeatedly he can “win the big games” — whatever that actually means. Jackson plays in arguably the toughest division in the NFL right now, has gone against Super Bowl-winning teams, and pulled off several game-winning drives throughout his career. What I never understood about that “big game” complaint is just how many quarterbacks that have everyone fawning all over them for their regular-season accomplishments but have struggled significantly more than Jackson in the postseason. Yet, you’d be hard-pressed to find many articles or talking heads saying those guys aren’t at the top of the league at the position.
It took Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan until his fifth season in the league to get his first postseason win. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford still hasn’t won a playoff game and he just finished his 12th season in the NFL. It took former Chargers and current Colts quarterback Philip Rivers three years just to get to the postseason and his fourth season to get his first playoff win, but he was just called a “Hall of Fame” quarterback by the announcer in Saturday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills. Quarterback legend Peyton Manning took six seasons and three playoff losses before his first postseason win and is yet considered a shoo-in for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I can keep pulling names if anyone wants, but I think the point is pretty clear.
Jackson rightfully deserves critique for his play at times. His first-quarter interception on Sunday might just be the worst ball I’ve seen him throw. He doesn’t always make the greatest decisions in the moment and doesn’t often take what a defense gives him when he’s flustered. He can succumb to the pressure of his critics and be forced into weaker areas of his game trying to prove them wrong.
But Jackson just turned 24 years old and has only started 37 regular-season games in the NFL. There are bound to be mistakes and bad throws as he continues to develop, just like literally every single young quarterback has battled with before and after him. Ignoring all Jackson does well simply to spite him is downright weird and reeks of ulterior motives.
Jackson and the Ravens may or may not make it all the way through the playoffs and to Super Bowl LV, where they may or may not win a championship. But with one win down, let’s finally get off this narrative that Jackson can’t win in the playoffs.