Ravens lose Lamar Jackson to concussion in playoff loss in Buffalo originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Lamar Jackson’s season ended somewhere in the Ravens’ locker room in Buffalo, far away from the field where the Ravens lost 17-3 and even farther away from the Super Bowl.
After a bad snap forced Jackson to scramble backwards toward his own endzone and scoop up the ball, he threw it as far as he could to the near sideline in an attempt to throw the ball away and mitigate any damage. Instead, they flagged him for intentional grounding and he suffered a concussion.
The loss certainly wasn’t on Jackson, but a significant chunk of the blame will be, as the Ravens lost to the Bills in the AFC Divisional Round, their second straight year with a loss in the second round.
“It’s just a sucky moment,” wide receiver Willie Snead said. “You go down like that with a concussion, and the odds of you coming back are slim. Just the competitor that he is, I know he wants to be out there to finish the game with us and give us a chance to come back.”
With Jackson out, as well as backup quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Trace McSorley, the Ravens turned to undrafted rookie Tyler Huntley, who spent the entire season on the team’s practice squad. Before Saturday, Huntley had thrown just five career passes in the NFL.
Huntley moved the ball down the field on the team’s final drive and showed signs of life with his legs, but any realistic chance the Ravens had of a comeback was lost when Jackson left the field.
“He’s a tough guy, so anytime you see him go down, you know he’s feeling something,” Andrews said. “I don’t know what’s going on with him, but I hope he’s alright.”
According to multiple reports, Jackson was cleared to travel with the team back to Baltimore after the game.
At the time of Jackson’s injury, though, the Ravens still trailed 17-3 and were facing an uphill battle if they wanted to pull an upset and advance to the AFC Championship Game. The loss certainly shouldn’t be laid at the feet of Jackson, as the offensive line allowed eight quarterback hits and struggled to get the run game moving all night.
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But the most notable play of the game, perhaps aside from Jackson’s concussion, came when he was picked off at the goal line as Taron Johnson put the Bills ahead for good. At the time, the Ravens trailed 10-3 and were on the doorstep of a tie game. And in a matter of plays, Jackson was in the locker room, unable to help.
“(Johnson) just squeezed really hard on Mark, and (Lamar) didn’t see him,” Snead said. “It was just one of those plays where he threw it, and (Johnson) just jumped it. It just sucks, man, because we had a 15-play drive going there, and it looked like we were about to score. It was a huge momentum shift in the game. It’s part of football, man. It is what it is. Just wish you could have those plays back — you know what I mean?”
Jackson ended the night 14-of-24 passing for 162 yards with the fateful interception. He added 34 yards on the ground on nine rushes through three quarters of play. In fact, Jackson nearly out-gained Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who totaled 209 yards in four quarters of play.
Still, that won’t be any consolation to the league’s 2019 MVP, who will hear the critics of his 1-3 postseason record.
“I just think he’ll look back at the whole season — not just this game, the whole season — and he’ll make those adjustments that he needs to do to be an elite quarterback, an even more elite quarterback,” Snead said.
He added after the game that Jackson was frustrated by the game and his injury, but was doing well health-wise.
What’s next for Jackson is, somehow, his fourth season in the NFL. He’s won an MVP award and taken the Ravens to the playoffs three times, but it’s clear the Ravens need another step to be taken in the passing game.
Naturally, he can be helped by improvements along the offensive line or in the receiving corps, where the Ravens’ deficiencies were on full display Saturday. But it’ll start with Jackson.
“He is an elite runner, an elite passer, but there are steps he can take, better strides that he can take, and he knows that,” Snead continued. “That’s the competitor in him to want to get better each and every offseason, to fix the little things that his game needs improvement on and continue to get better as a passer. I think if he knuckles down on that part of his game and really reaches his full potential in that area, then the sky is the limit for Lamar, man.”
What’s next for Jackson won’t be easy. The same questions about him as a passing quarterback will persist, fairly or unfairly, but the tools are there for him. And by the time the game was over, the focus was already on next season.
“I think this game is going to be a wake-up call for him, hopefully this offseason,” Snead said. “So, we’ll see what he does next year.”