SEATTLE -- After leading the Baltimore Ravens to a 30-16 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, quarterback Lamar Jackson walked off the field while hearing fans serenade him with chants of "MVP, MVP, MVP!"
This record-setting season has featured Jackson winning games with his arm and dominating them with his legs. But, for the first time in his young career, Jackson changed a game with his words.
With the game tied at 13 late in the third quarter, Jackson came to the sideline ticked off that another promising drive in the red zone was going to end with a field goal. As Justin Tucker was lining up to attempt the go-ahead kick, coach John Harbaugh saw the upset look on Jackson's face and reconsidered his decision to play it safe on fourth-and-2 at the Seattle 8-yard line.
"You want to go for it?," Harbaugh asked as Jackson walked past him.
Jackson stopped and quickly turned to his coach, saying, "Yeah, I want to go for it! Let's get it."
Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda then yelled, "If he wants to go for it, I want to go for it."
Harbaugh called a timeout, pulled his field-goal team off the field and sent Jackson along with his offense back on it.
This spur-of-the-moment change allowed offensive coordinator Greg Roman to finally use a long-discussed play. During the week, Roman had fought to run "Quarterback Power," but Harbaugh warned him that it sent their franchise quarterback up the middle of the defense, which exposed him to big hits.
Roman agreed to call it only in a critical situation and only when Baltimore needed it the most. On Sunday, that time had come with 1 minute, 24 seconds left in the third quarter.
Along with the playcall, Roman sent a message through the speaker in Jackson's helmet: The Ravens were putting the game in his hands.
“Let’s do it,” Jackson said.
Jackson followed the lead blocks of tight end Hayden Hurst, motioning fullback Patrick Ricard and pulling guard Bradley Bozeman. He made one cut back into the heart of the defense before powering his way into the end zone.
Jackson's 8-yard touchdown gave the Ravens a lead they wouldn't relinquish. His emphatic spike of the ball capped a drive of outpouring emotions.
Three plays before that score, Jackson was trying to get the attention of center Matt Skura to snap the ball. Frustrated that the final seconds of the play clock were ticking off, Jackson clapped his hands, stomped his feet and leapt high in the air with both feet. He then threw the ball to the ground in anger.
"I felt like from there, there was something different that came out of Lamar," cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. "That’s a quarterback I really like to see."
Faced with second-and-15 from the Seattle 21-yard line, Jackson's pass to tight end Mark Andrews was dropped. On third down, Jackson showed determination in cutting and spinning his way for a 13-yard gain.
But Jackson came up two yards short, and it looked like the Ravens were going to settle for a field goal before Jackson used his persuasive charms. Jackson ratcheted up his emotions, and the rest of the team rose to the challenge.
"You know, he's a competitor," Harbaugh said. "This guy is a competitor of the nth degree. I mean, I don't know how to describe what a competitor Lamar Jackson is. He wants to win at everything all the time, and we feed off that. He carries that. I think that's who we are as a team. That's why he fits us so well. And it showed today. You saw that fire."