OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Early in training camp, Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks coach Tee Martin spoke to Lamar Jackson about improving his deep passes. Martin talked about trusting that the wide receiver will be at the right spot and putting the ball on target.
“When Lamar is getting motivated about something, he kind of looks into the sky, like, ‘All right, we’re going to see about that,'” Martin said last month.
In Sunday’s 27-24 win in Cincinnati, Jackson delivered one of the best passes of his six-year career, hitting rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers for a spectacular 52-yard completion. With only 0.7 yards of separation between Flowers and two Bengals defensive backs, Jackson placed the ball on Flowers’ hands on a pass that had a 33.8% completion probability, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
This is the latest throw that shows how on point Jackson has been in leading the Ravens to a 2-0 start. His 74.5% completion rate ranks second in the NFL to Josh Allen (76.9%) and is far above his career completion percentage of 63.7%.
“He’s on the money,” Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said. “That’s ‘Money Lamar.’”
In the fourth quarter, Jackson delivered in another tight window, when he dropped a 17-yard pass over Nelson Agholor’s left shoulder and a closely trailing Bengals defender for a touchdown. This time, there was 1.8 yards of separation.
This was a play that the Ravens had practiced and hit in practice. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said this was a prime example of how much confidence Jackson has in Agholor.
"Lamar put that thing right where it had to be, and ‘Nelly’ made a great catch,” Harbaugh said. “[When] they get up and get in your face and press you, we have to make them pay for it, and Lamar and Nelson did that.”
The Ravens have helped Jackson by increasing his time to throw as well as his viable targets. On Sunday, Jackson faced a career-low 9.1% pressure rate despite Baltimore missing two injured starters on the offensive line: left tackle Ronnie Stanley (knee) and center Tyler Linderbaum (ankle).
Jackson also had plenty of options in the passing game, completing throws to seven players. This is the deepest supporting cast that Jackson has ever had with the additions of Flowers, Agholor and Odell Beckham Jr., along with the return of Rashod Bateman from a foot injury.
"Oh, he's different. He's different,” Agholor said of Jackson. "I've always watched him extend plays and move around, but also I've watched him survey the field, and he does a great job. I mean, I don't know many quarterbacks that can literally go through almost a full progression as quick as he does.”
Jackson was the difference-maker in Cincinnati. Baltimore had lost its last three trips to Paycor Stadium with Jackson sidelined with an injury,
On Sunday, Jackson was sharpest when the Ravens needed him the most. In the second half, he connected on 8 of 9 passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns (150.7 passer rating).
"He’s the unanimous MVP for a reason,” Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen said, referring to Jackson's 2019 award. "Lamar is going to make plays. Lamar is going to do his job to the best of his ability. As a defense, we have his back. You seen it. At the end of the game, he took over."