Column: Lamar Jackson is the NFL’s human myth buster

On a day when shoo-in Hall-of-Famers Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers combined to throw exactly zero touchdowns, Lamar Jackson was the NFL’s brightest star.

Considering this season has been a passing of the torch from the older pocket passers of yesteryear to the young dual threats of today, it was fitting that the Baltimore Ravens’ 22-year-old phenom torched the hapless (and winless) Cincinnati Bengals both by air and by ground Sunday, highlighted by the best touchdown run by a quarterback we’ve seen in years.

As breathtaking as Jackson is as a runner, his passing ability is what made NFL history on Sunday and continues to tear down the racist myths about the black/running quarterback with each dominant showing.

Jackson’s 15-of-17, 233-yard, 3-TD performance puts him alongside Rodgers and Joe Montana as the only players in the Super Bowl era to throw for three touchdowns, rush for another and post a perfect passer rating on 15 or more pass attempts. That doesn’t engender another lazy comparison to Michael Vick or Randall Cunningham — it puts Jackson in Hall of Fame company with two guys that look nothing like him.

But no one truly looks like Jackson. He’s got all the speed and shiftiness that made Vick a superstar, but he’s twice the passer Vick ever was (yes, including during his career resurgence under Andy Reid in Philadelphia). Jackson’s on pace to shatter Vick’s rushing records, and is among the most efficient passers in the league, completing nearly 66 percent of his throws for a 101.7 QB rating.

The fact that Jackson’s two perfect passer rating games came against inept teams like the Dolphins and Bengals shouldn’t warrant an asterisk next to his accomplishment. Tom Brady and Philip Rivers failed to do similar damage to Miami, and Dak Prescott’s passer rating didn’t even break 100 against the Fins. Jackson’s next best game came against the vaunted Patriots defense in prime time, hanging a 73.9% completion percentage and 107.7 QB rating on the great Bill Belichick, prompting Hall of Fame talent evaluator Bill Polian to moonwalk off his borderline racist pre-draft take on Jackson.

As Peter King pointed out, Jackson’s sophomore surge comes 50 years after Shack Harris became the NFL’s first black QB to start a season opener. Half a century later, QBs of color are not only starting, but excelling at the position, demolishing every archaic thought about the black quarterback. Three of the top four QB ratings among regular starters are being posted by men of color. In fact, the whole damn MVP race is shattering stereotypes, with Jackson, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes as the QB front-runners and the speedy, workhorse running back Christian McCaffrey in the mix as well.

Watson and the Houston Texans come to M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday for a matchup that will not only provide more insight into whether he or Jackson wrangles the inside track to MVP, but potentially serve as the first installment of what the NFL surely hopes will evolve into a QB rivalry that makes Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady look like it was recorded on black and white film.

Watson deserves props for what he’s done to make Houston a contender — and his thoughtful, must-see breakdowns for reporters should absolutely get him some Manning-esque post-playing options — but this season, Jackson has been the NFL’s most impactful myth buster of them all.

Though I’m not ready to call Jackson the league’s MVP (that title belongs to Russell Wilson so far, since he’s got far less top shelf help around him in Seattle than Jackson has in Baltimore), he is the most electric, singularly dominant offensive player in the league this season. And he’s doing it with his mind and his arm every bit as much as he is his legs.

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<p><b><i>Seahawks 27</i></b><br />
<b><i>49ers 24 (OT)</i></b></p>
<p>In what was <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1191161869802917888?s=20">the game of the year in more ways than one</a>, defense dominated most of the way (a combined 10 sacks, seven turnovers and two defensive touchdowns) before unheralded field goal kickers threatened to make this the first tie game on Monday Night Football since 1983. But Russell Wilson solidified his status as MVP frontrunner by saving us all from the dreaded non-result and pulled Seattle within a half game of San Fran in the best division in football.</p>
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 11: Tight end Jacob Hollister #48 of the Seattle Seahawks catches a pass for a touchdown over strong safety Jaquiski Tartt #29 of the San Francisco 49ers in the third quarter of the game at Levi’s Stadium on November 11, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Getty Images/Thearon W. Henderson)
Vikings 28
Cowboys 24 Say what you will about Kirk Cousins in prime time, but he managed the game well for a Vikings team with a dominant run game and defense potent enough to shut down Zeke Elliott in a game that will likely matter to the NFC playoff picture. Minnesota looks legit and Dallas is getting exposed. Not belabor the point, but uh … (Getty Images/Thearon W. Henderson)
<p><em><strong>Rams 12</strong></em><br />
<em><strong>Steelers 17</strong></em></p>
<p>Minkah Fitzpatrick is the first Steeler in 35 years to score a defensive TD in back-to-back games and has five picks in only seven games in Black and Gold. If Pittsburgh makes the playoffs, he has to be in the mix for Defensive Player of the Year.</p>
<p>And reigning DPOY Aaron Donald got a safety in his Steel City homecoming, but his Rams look lost in a division (and conference) where the margin for error won&#8217;t allow them to sneak into the playoffs without a dramatic turnaround. Jared Goff is looking more like Joe Flacco every day.</p>
Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (39) heads for the end zone for a touchdown after recovering a fumble by Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP/Keith Srakocic)
<p><em><strong>Panthers 16</strong></em><br />
<em><strong>Packers 24</strong></em></p>
<p>What&#8217;s old: Riverboat Ron Rivera gambles late by going for a rushing touchdown in the final seconds, falling short in snowy Green Bay.</p>
<p>What&#8217;s new: The Packers enter their bye week 8-2 with Aaron Rodgers playing second fiddle to Aaron Jones and the best defense they&#8217;ve had in years. What a time to be a Pack fan.</p>
Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Jones runs during the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP/Mike Roemer)
<p><b><i>Dolphins 16</i></b><br />
<b><i>Colts 12</i></b></p>
<p>The lone team the Redskins have beaten this year has done something the &#8216;Skins haven&#8217;t: Won consecutive games. Given Cincinnati is still winless — on a day when the Dolphins, Jets and Falcons all won, no less — and Joe Burrow played his way into being the favorite to be picked #1 overall in the draft; Miami may get Tua without the tanking after all.</p>
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) breaks the tackle of Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore (23) to score a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP/AJ Mast)
Ravens 49
Bengals 13 Lamar Jackson had the highlight reel run of the year, becoming the second player in NFL history to register a perfect passer rating in multiple games in a season. The Ravens defense scored more touchdowns than the offense they played against, and led by the swaggiest defensive coordinator in the league. Baltimore seems destined for great things. (AP/AJ Mast)
<p><b><i>Cardinals 27</i></b><br />
<b><i>Bucs 30</i></b></p>
<p>The Bucs defense ended Kyler Murray&#8217;s NFL rookie record streak of 211 straight passes without a pick and the run game was solid … but Jameis Winston reiterated why he&#8217;s never to be trusted in fantasy football.</p>
TAMPA, FLORIDA — NOV. 10: Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushes during a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Raymond James Stadium on Nov. 10, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. (Getty Images/Mike Ehrmann)
<p><b><i>Giants 27</i></b><br />
<b><i>Jets 34</i></b></p>
<p>A week after getting <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-daniel-jones-boom-mic-20191106-5riaqdatjbdjpnadynoxwp5wae-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">waylaid by a mic</a>, Daniel Jones got the same treatment from a sagging Jets defense that managed to sack him six times; even though Leonard Williams was on the other sideline having way less fun <a href="https://nypost.com/2019/11/07/leonard-williams-wont-spare-sam-darnold-if-opportunity-arises/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">than he expected</a>. Whatever <a href="https://www.nj.com/giants/2019/11/giants-pat-shurmur-not-concerned-about-job-security-im-built-for-this.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Pat Shurmur is built for</a>, it shouldn&#8217;t include losing to the second-worst team in football to fall into Big Blue&#8217;s longest losing skid in five years.</p>
New York Jets strong safety Jamal Adams, right, strips the ball from New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, left, during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. Adams scored a touchdown on the play. (AP/Bill Kostroun)
<p><b><i>Falcons 26</i></b><br />
<b><i>Saints 9</i></b></p>
<p>In the upset of the year (and <a href="https://twitter.com/BFawkesESPN/status/1193685016607260672?s=20" target="_blank" rel="noopener">maybe the decade</a>), Atlanta played like a team, <a href="https://www.ajc.com/sports/football/quinn-looking-last-eight-games-new-season/8vHxITMiCCz0o5XqfDLlaJ/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">treating its second-half slate like a new season</a>. Unfortunately, it&#8217;s too late to save it.</p>
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) is sacked by Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (97) and defensive end Vic Beasley (44) in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP/Butch Dill)
<p><b><i>Chiefs 32</i></b><br />
<b><i>Titans 35</i></b></p>
<p>Here&#8217;s your weekly reminder that Kansas City doesn&#8217;t have much beyond Patrick Mahomes and the passing game. The defense got torched by Ryan Tannehill at a critical juncture and <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/11/10/titans-say-they-timed-chiefs-cadence-to-block-last-second-field-goal/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the predictable special teams</a> got the potential game-tying field goal blocked emphatically like Dikembe Mutombo was coming off the edge. The Chiefs are in trouble.</p>
Tennessee Titans defensive back Joshua Kalu (46) blocks a 52-yard field goal attempt by Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker (7) on the final play of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans won 35-32. (AP/Mark Zaleski)
<p><b><i>Bills 13</i></b><br />
<b><i>Browns 19</i></b></p>
<p>Buffalo has the record (6-3) we thought Cleveland would have at this point in the season, and the 3-6 Browns have the record we suspected the Bills would have at this point of the season. This game was less upset and more course correction, especially for the team with a QB <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/11/06/baker-mayfield-shaved-out-of-superstition-then-because-i-didnt-deserve-it/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">constantly correcting his facial hair</a>.</p>
CLEVELAND, OH — NOV. 10: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass past Star Lotulelei #98 of the Buffalo Bills during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on Nov. 10, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland defeated Buffalo 19-16. (Getty Images/Kirk Irwin)
<p><b><i>Lions 13</i></b><br />
<b><i>Bears 20</i></b></p>
<p>Maybe it was <a href="https://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/bears/ct-cb-chicago-bears-matt-nagy-defense-zach-ertz-20191104-2axoxwq7znci3lmysuaqm4zoe4-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Matt Nagy&#8217;s positivity</a>, maybe it was <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2019/11/07/mitchell-trubisky-bears-halas-hall-televisions" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Mitchell Trubisky turning off the TVs, </a>but it was probably more about <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/11/05/stafford-on-pace-to-lead-nfl-in-passing-yards-with-help-from-lions-bad-defense/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the red hot Matthew Stafford</a> being sidelined for the first time since 2010 and Detroit&#8217;s defense continuing to disappoint.</p>
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) avoids a tackle byf Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers (90) during the second half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP/Charles Rex Arbogast)
<p><b><i>Chargers 24</i></b><br />
<b><i>Raiders 26</i></b></p>
<p>In the last prime time game at the Oakland Coliseum, Clelin Ferrell had <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1192659624366874625?s=20" target="_blank" rel="noopener">one of the best performances</a> by a rookie Raiders pass rusher and Josh Jacobs punched in the game-winning touchdown. I&#8217;m not ready to say the Silver and Black is back, but their first-round picks from last year&#8217;s fire sale are certainly making it look like <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/11/08/jon-gruden-is-making-a-case-for-coach-of-the-year/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Jon Gruden knows what he&#8217;s doing after all</a>.</p>
<p>And it looks like the beginning of the end for Philip Rivers in powder blue. His performance was uglier than his hideous 57.5 QB rating would imply, and at 38 years old; it&#8217;s probably not his last stinker.</p>
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA — NOV. 07: Clelin Ferrell #96 of the Oakland Raiders sacks Philip Rivers #17 of the Los Angeles Chargers at RingCentral Coliseum on Nov. 07, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Getty Images/Ezra Shaw)
(1/13)
<p><b><i>Seahawks 27</i></b><br />
<b><i>49ers 24 (OT)</i></b></p>
<p>In what was <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1191161869802917888?s=20">the game of the year in more ways than one</a>, defense dominated most of the way (a combined 10 sacks, seven turnovers and two defensive touchdowns) before unheralded field goal kickers threatened to make this the first tie game on Monday Night Football since 1983. But Russell Wilson solidified his status as MVP frontrunner by saving us all from the dreaded non-result and pulled Seattle within a half game of San Fran in the best division in football.</p>
<p><em><strong>Rams 12</strong></em><br />
<em><strong>Steelers 17</strong></em></p>
<p>Minkah Fitzpatrick is the first Steeler in 35 years to score a defensive TD in back-to-back games and has five picks in only seven games in Black and Gold. If Pittsburgh makes the playoffs, he has to be in the mix for Defensive Player of the Year.</p>
<p>And reigning DPOY Aaron Donald got a safety in his Steel City homecoming, but his Rams look lost in a division (and conference) where the margin for error won&#8217;t allow them to sneak into the playoffs without a dramatic turnaround. Jared Goff is looking more like Joe Flacco every day.</p>
<p><em><strong>Panthers 16</strong></em><br />
<em><strong>Packers 24</strong></em></p>
<p>What&#8217;s old: Riverboat Ron Rivera gambles late by going for a rushing touchdown in the final seconds, falling short in snowy Green Bay.</p>
<p>What&#8217;s new: The Packers enter their bye week 8-2 with Aaron Rodgers playing second fiddle to Aaron Jones and the best defense they&#8217;ve had in years. What a time to be a Pack fan.</p>
<p><b><i>Dolphins 16</i></b><br />
<b><i>Colts 12</i></b></p>
<p>The lone team the Redskins have beaten this year has done something the &#8216;Skins haven&#8217;t: Won consecutive games. Given Cincinnati is still winless — on a day when the Dolphins, Jets and Falcons all won, no less — and Joe Burrow played his way into being the favorite to be picked #1 overall in the draft; Miami may get Tua without the tanking after all.</p>
<p><b><i>Cardinals 27</i></b><br />
<b><i>Bucs 30</i></b></p>
<p>The Bucs defense ended Kyler Murray&#8217;s NFL rookie record streak of 211 straight passes without a pick and the run game was solid … but Jameis Winston reiterated why he&#8217;s never to be trusted in fantasy football.</p>
<p><b><i>Giants 27</i></b><br />
<b><i>Jets 34</i></b></p>
<p>A week after getting <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-daniel-jones-boom-mic-20191106-5riaqdatjbdjpnadynoxwp5wae-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">waylaid by a mic</a>, Daniel Jones got the same treatment from a sagging Jets defense that managed to sack him six times; even though Leonard Williams was on the other sideline having way less fun <a href="https://nypost.com/2019/11/07/leonard-williams-wont-spare-sam-darnold-if-opportunity-arises/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">than he expected</a>. Whatever <a href="https://www.nj.com/giants/2019/11/giants-pat-shurmur-not-concerned-about-job-security-im-built-for-this.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Pat Shurmur is built for</a>, it shouldn&#8217;t include losing to the second-worst team in football to fall into Big Blue&#8217;s longest losing skid in five years.</p>
<p><b><i>Falcons 26</i></b><br />
<b><i>Saints 9</i></b></p>
<p>In the upset of the year (and <a href="https://twitter.com/BFawkesESPN/status/1193685016607260672?s=20" target="_blank" rel="noopener">maybe the decade</a>), Atlanta played like a team, <a href="https://www.ajc.com/sports/football/quinn-looking-last-eight-games-new-season/8vHxITMiCCz0o5XqfDLlaJ/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener">treating its second-half slate like a new season</a>. Unfortunately, it&#8217;s too late to save it.</p>
<p><b><i>Chiefs 32</i></b><br />
<b><i>Titans 35</i></b></p>
<p>Here&#8217;s your weekly reminder that Kansas City doesn&#8217;t have much beyond Patrick Mahomes and the passing game. The defense got torched by Ryan Tannehill at a critical juncture and <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/11/10/titans-say-they-timed-chiefs-cadence-to-block-last-second-field-goal/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the predictable special teams</a> got the potential game-tying field goal blocked emphatically like Dikembe Mutombo was coming off the edge. The Chiefs are in trouble.</p>
<p><b><i>Bills 13</i></b><br />
<b><i>Browns 19</i></b></p>
<p>Buffalo has the record (6-3) we thought Cleveland would have at this point in the season, and the 3-6 Browns have the record we suspected the Bills would have at this point of the season. This game was less upset and more course correction, especially for the team with a QB <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/11/06/baker-mayfield-shaved-out-of-superstition-then-because-i-didnt-deserve-it/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">constantly correcting his facial hair</a>.</p>
<p><b><i>Lions 13</i></b><br />
<b><i>Bears 20</i></b></p>
<p>Maybe it was <a href="https://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/bears/ct-cb-chicago-bears-matt-nagy-defense-zach-ertz-20191104-2axoxwq7znci3lmysuaqm4zoe4-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Matt Nagy&#8217;s positivity</a>, maybe it was <a href="https://www.si.com/nfl/2019/11/07/mitchell-trubisky-bears-halas-hall-televisions" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Mitchell Trubisky turning off the TVs, </a>but it was probably more about <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/11/05/stafford-on-pace-to-lead-nfl-in-passing-yards-with-help-from-lions-bad-defense/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the red hot Matthew Stafford</a> being sidelined for the first time since 2010 and Detroit&#8217;s defense continuing to disappoint.</p>
<p><b><i>Chargers 24</i></b><br />
<b><i>Raiders 26</i></b></p>
<p>In the last prime time game at the Oakland Coliseum, Clelin Ferrell had <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1192659624366874625?s=20" target="_blank" rel="noopener">one of the best performances</a> by a rookie Raiders pass rusher and Josh Jacobs punched in the game-winning touchdown. I&#8217;m not ready to say the Silver and Black is back, but their first-round picks from last year&#8217;s fire sale are certainly making it look like <a href="https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2019/11/08/jon-gruden-is-making-a-case-for-coach-of-the-year/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Jon Gruden knows what he&#8217;s doing after all</a>.</p>
<p>And it looks like the beginning of the end for Philip Rivers in powder blue. His performance was uglier than his hideous 57.5 QB rating would imply, and at 38 years old; it&#8217;s probably not his last stinker.</p>

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