OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- On March 2, 2018, Lamar Jackson stood at the podium of the NFL combine not as one of the top quarterbacks in the draft but one of the bigger storylines.
Jackson repeatedly expressed no intention of switching positions after a rumor circulated teams wanted the Heisman Trophy winner to work out as a wide receiver.
“I’m strictly a quarterback."
“Whoever likes me at quarterback, that’s where I’m going.”
“No sir, I’m a quarterback.”
Three years later, Jackson has become a unanimous NFL MVP, won more games than any other quarterback since taking over as the Ravens’ starter midway though the 2018 season and produced some of the most memorable highlights in the league.
Here’s a look at the top 10 moments of Jackson’s NFL career:
10. Remarkable COVID return
Date: Dec. 8, 2020
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
Final: Ravens 34, Cowboys 17
What happened: Two days after coming off the reserve/COVID-19 list, Jackson shook off an up-and-down season and again resembled one of the most dangerous players in the league. He threw two touchdowns and ran for a 37-yard touchdown despite one full practice leading up to the game. This performance came after he experienced “a little flu-like symptoms” after testing positive on Thanksgiving and he still couldn’t taste or smell.
What was said: “He’s going to give you whatever [effort] he has, and it turned out that he had a lot tonight. That was good to see. I don’t think you could predict that.” -- Ravens coach John Harbaugh
Stat to remember: With his fourth career touchdown run of at least 30 yards, Jackson tied Kordell Stewart for the most by a quarterback since 1950.
9. Historic MNF debut
Date: Nov. 25, 2019
Where: L.A. Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles
Final: Ravens 45, Rams 6
What happened: Jackson became the first player to throw five touchdown passes in a Monday Night Football debut, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. With the backdrop of the Hollywood sign and the bright lights of prime time, Jackson completed 15-of-20 passes for 169 yards passing and ran for 95 yards. He did all of this despite not playing in the final 14 minutes, 43 seconds.
What was said: “He is one of a kind; he's pretty special. We got our faces peeled off.” -- Rams safety Eric Weddle
Stat to remember: Jackson led the Ravens to touchdowns on all six of his drives, marking the first time in 11 years an NFL team had accomplished this (the last to do so was the 2008 New Orleans Saints).
8. Juke and spin TD in Kansas City
Date: Sept. 22, 2019
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
Final: Chiefs 33, Ravens 28
What happened: With the Ravens trailing 33-22 late in the fourth quarter, Jackson attempts to rally Baltimore with what would become his most memorable play in defeat. Outracing Emmanuel Ogbah to the edge, Jackson did a stutter-step at the Chiefs’ 4-yard line to fake out Tyrann Mathieu before spinning around Daniel Sorensen to cross the goal line.
What was said: “The quarterback made some big-time plays. Kudos to him.” -- Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones
Stat to remember: Jackson has 899 scramble yards the last three seasons, which ranks fourth in the NFL over that time.
7. Statement in first prime-time game
Date: Dec. 22, 2018
Where: StubHub Center, Carson, California
Final: Ravens 22, Chargers 10
What happened: In his first prime-time game, Jackson transformed the Ravens from a novelty to title contender by beating a Chargers team that had won 10 of its previous 11 games. Jackson upended Los Angeles more with his arm than his legs, hitting tight end Mark Andrews in stride for a 68-yard touchdown in the third quarter. This was Jackson’s best throw of his rookie season.
What was said: “We can play with anyone. That was a great team. We can fight, and everyone sees it now.” -- Jackson
Stat to remember: At the time, Jackson’s throw to Andrews was the Ravens’ longest touchdown pass in two years.
6. Eclipsing Vick
Date: Dec. 12, 2019
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
Final: Ravens 42, Jets 21
What happened: Jackson broke Michael Vick’s single-season rushing record by a quarterback, and he accomplished the feat in only Week 15. On the opening drive, he faked a handoff to running back Mark Ingram and ran for a hard-fought five yards to surpass his childhood idol’s mark of 1,039 yards set in 2006. When it was announced at the stadium that Jackson had set a new milestone, he didn’t show any emotion. Sitting on the bench, he looked at the video board and then turned his attention to a tablet with quarterbacks coach James Urban.
What was said: “Me vs. Lamar, 40 Yard Dash on natural grass but he has to wear rollerblades. Who’s buying the PPV?” — Tom Brady on Twitter about 30 minutes after Jackson set the record
Stat to remember: In the same game in which he surpassed Vick, Jackson also became the first player in league history to produce at least 4,000 passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards in his first 30 career games.
5. “Best run I’ve ever seen by a QB”
Date: Jan. 10, 2021
Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
Final: Ravens 20, Titans 13
What happened: Jackson won the first playoff game of his career by jumpstarting a comeback with the second-longest postseason run by a quarterback. With Baltimore trailing 10-3 late in the second quarter, Jackson dropped back to pass before bursting through the middle of the Titans defense for a 48-yard touchdown. This was the longest scramble of Jackson’s career.
What was said: “It’s the best run I’ve ever seen by a quarterback.” -- Harbaugh
Stat to remember: Jackson traveled 71.2 yards of distance from snap to the moment he crossed the pylon, according to NFL NextGen Stats. That’s the most yards Jackson has totaled on a play as a ball carrier.
4. Taking charge in Seattle
Date: Oct. 20, 2019
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle
Final: Ravens 30, Seahawks 16
What happened: With the game tied at 13 late in the third quarter, Jackson came to the sideline ticked off that a promising drive stalled at the Seattle 8-yard line. As kicker Justin Tucker was lining up for the kick, Harbaugh saw the upset look on Jackson’s face and reconsidered his decision on fourth-and-2. “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!” Jackson went back onto the field, kept the ball and powered his way into the end zone, giving Baltimore a lead it would never relinquish.
What was said: “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. It showed today. You saw that fire.” -- Harbaugh
Stat to remember: Jackson ran for 116 yards and a touchdown in Seattle, becoming the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era with 100 yards rushing and a touchdown run in consecutive games, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
3. “Not bad for a running back”
Date: Sept. 8, 2019
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
Final: Ravens 59, Dolphins 10
What happened: In the 2019 season opener, Jackson answered questions about whether he could throw the ball by tossing five touchdown passes and recording a perfect passer rating. He completed 17-of-20 passes for 324 yards in three quarters of work.
What was said: After the game, Jackson was asked whether he proved to people he was going to throw the ball in 2019. He flashed a smile and responded, “Probably not. Not bad for a running back."
Stat to remember: Jackson finished with a 24.8% completion rate above expectation in Week 1, according to NFL NextGen Stats.
2. The Cincinnati spin
Date: Nov. 10, 2019
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
Final: Ravens 49, Bengals 13
What happened: The defining play of Jackson’s MVP season was a 47-yard touchdown run that was part Michael Vick, part Barry Sanders. Midway through the third quarter, Jackson raced to the Bengals’ 32-yard line where he eluded linebacker Nick Vigil and safety Shawn Williams by pivoting and corkscrewing himself with a nasty spin move. The spin maneuver -- which he had choreographed a day earlier -- generated six million views on the NFL’s official Twitter field by Monday morning.
What was said: “They’ll be watching that run for decades and decades. That’s one that everyone in the country is going to see by tomorrow afternoon.” -- Harbaugh told his coaches on the headset after the run
Stat to remember: Jackson reached 18.59 mph, according to NFL NextGen Stats. It marked the 25th time he had hit at least 18 mph as a ball carrier in the first nine games of 2019.
1. The Cleveland comeback
Date: Dec. 14, 2020
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland
Final: Ravens 47, Browns 42
What happened: With the Ravens in a must-win situation to reach the postseason, Jackson misses most of the fourth quarter with cramping in his legs and arms and Baltimore watches a 34-20 lead turn into a 35-34 deficit. Returning with two minutes remaining, Jackson scrambles on fourth-and-5 and throws a 44-yard touchdown to Marquise “Hollywood” Brown on his first play back.
What was said: “Superman showed up right on time!!” -- Dez Bryant on Twitter
Stat to remember: That touchdown pass increased Baltimore’s chances of reaching the playoffs from 56% to 82%, according to ESPN Stats & Information.