Tue, 24 Nov 2020

Lamar Jackson Has High Praise for Steelers Defense

Baltimore Ravens
29 Oct 2020, 22:25 GMT+10

Ryan Mink

Believe it or not, Lamar Jackson has only started against the Pittsburgh Steelers once so far in his young career.

Both meetings had already been played in 2018 by the time he took over as starter, and he sat out the Week 17 game last year after the Ravens had already clinched a first-round bye.

While his one Ravens-Steelers start ended with a Ravens win, Jackson will be looking for a better individual performance this time around.

Jackson has thrown three interceptions in a game just once so far, and it happened on Oct. 6 last season, when the Ravens traveled to Pittsburgh for a Week 5 game.

Jackson was 19-of-28 for 161 passing yards (his fourth-lowest mark of the season). He was sacked five times, which was also the most of his career. Jackson ran 14 times for 70 yards and scored one touchdown (throwing).

The Ravens ended up prevailing in overtime, 26-23, after Marlon Humphrey punched the ball out of JuJu Smith-Schuster's hands and recovered the fumble himself, setting up a 46-yard game-winning field goal by Justin Tucker. But Jackson wasn't thrilled about how he played.

"Everyone loves to win, but I'm ticked off about the interceptions," Jackson said after the game.

Now Jackson faces a Pittsburgh defense that's tied for the third-most interceptions (eight) in the league, leads the NFL in sacks (26), and has allowed the fewest yards per game (286.3). This year's Steelers defense is every bit as good, if not better, than last season's unit.

"Their defensive line is great. Their front four, those guys get off the ball and get after the quarterback. A lot of strip-sacks," Jackson said Wednesday. "T.J. [Watt] and Bud [Dupree], they do a great job against the quarterback and the run game. I feel like our offensive line is going to be ready and we're just going to go out there and play football."

Watt is tied with the fifth-most sacks in the league (5.5) and Dupree is right behind him with five. While they'll be premier matchups for Ravens Pro Bowl tackles Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr., it's safety Minkah Fitzpatrick who Jackson will have to closely watch.

Fitzpatrick didn't get one of the three interceptions of Jackson last year, but he did get his hands on one pass and finished with a season-high seven tackles. Fitzpatrick has one interception this year - a pick-six of Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

"Minkah, he's a ball hawk. He's great at doing his thing, coming down making tackles, catching picks, scoring on pick-sixes," Jackson said. "I feel like our receivers and our offense is going to be ready. We're going to have to see when the game comes on."

Coming off the bye, the Ravens offense is looking to break out after six games of ups and downs. There's a lot going right, but Baltimore went into the bye knowing there's room for improvement. Jackson said he got his receivers together during the time off to throw and work more on improving their chemistry.

It's going to be tough against a stout Steelers defense, but Jackson agreed with teammate Mark Andrews, who said earlier this week that it's going to be a "dangerous last half of the season" for the Ravens offense.

"Now the second half of the season is here," Jackson said. "Coming off the bye week, great preparation. We're going to see."

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