Jackson leads Ravens into rematch with Chargers in wild card round

The Ravens are hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2012.

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Lamar Jackson is ready to elevate his play to an even higher level.

The rookie quarterback has already come up huge over the final weeks of the season when the Ravens were facing must-win games to end a three-year playoff skid.

Now, he is preparing for a wild card matchup Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, a team Baltimore beat 22-10 in Week 16.

Jackson, 21, will be the youngest quarterback to ever start in the NFL postseason and he is not remotely intimidated by the challenge.

He has effectively run the offense ever since he took over the starting role for Joe Flacco, who suffered a right hip injury in Week 9.

“I told them when I came in, ‘I came in to learn, whether it’s this year or next year, or I just want to sit out and learn,” said Jackson. “And, I just got my ticket in the middle of the season. [They] threw me out there, and we’ve been having success.”

The Ravens won six of their last seven games with Jackson as the starter and earned their first AFC North Division title since 2012. Jackson amassed 556 rushing yards over that stretch, which ranked seventh in the NFL.

Overall, Jackson led all NFL quarterbacks with 695 yards rushing. The Ravens are ranked second in the league with 2,441 yards rushing behind Seattle. Baltimore also racked up the most total net yards (5,999) and second most rushing yards (2,441) in single-season franchise history.

“We’re running the ball like 40-plus carries a game – sign me up! Let’s go! It’s been great,” offensive lineman Marshal Yanda said. “Obviously, in the end, we are winning – that’s the most important thing. Like I said, if we have to pass the ball 50 times, run the ball 50 times, as long as we’re winning, and we’re here in January – that’s the ultimate goal. No complaints.”

The smash-mouth style of play also helped Baltimore lead the league in time of possession, holding the ball for an average of 32:17 per game. The Ravens were 8-0 when posting at least 34 minutes of possession in game.

In the first game against the Chargers, Jackson earned his first 200-yard passing game. The Ravens' top-rated defense held the high-flying Chargers to less than 200 yards for the first time since 2014.

Jackson was 12 of 22 for 204 yards with a 68-yard touchdown pass to fellow rookie Mark Andrews.

Meanwhile, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was held to a 51.7 passer rating with a pair of interceptions.

Los Angeles will be looking for a measure of revenge in the rematch.

The Ravens are hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2012, when they won Super Bowl XLVII.

“Obviously, they know us, we know them. So, it’s just going to be execution,” Los Angeles coach Anthony Lynn said. “We need to win our one-on-ones, and we have to execute. I don’t think it’s going to be a big secret as to what everyone is doing. It’s just whoever executes the best is going to win this game.”

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

This is going to be a tough road game for the rookie. The Chargers are going to stock the box.