Between giving the team a rare talk and receiving their most gratifying game ball, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson called for post-season revenge and silenced those who doubted he could win if it counted.
In the Ravens '20-13 wildcard triumph in Tennessee on Sunday, Jackson won the first playoff game of his career and paid off for the Titans' defeat last season.
"It feels great," said Jackson. "It will always be naysayers, no matter what. I appreciate the win. I am grateful for the win."
The reigning NFL MVP ran 136 yards – including an explosive touchdown scramble of 48 yards – and threw 179 in a performance that took off many questions from its critics.
Can't you win in the postseason? Jackson, who turned 24 last week, became the third-youngest quarterback to win the NFL MVP and a playoff game. Only Dan Marino and Patrick Mahomes have accomplished this feat before.
Can't plan a comeback? With a 10-0 deficit in the first quarter, Jackson scored his first win double-digit behind. He was 0-6.
Can't you beat the titans? It became fitting that Jackson gained his post-season respect against a rival who has so much bad blood with, from the ravens partying on the Titan's logo to leaving the field without shaking hands.
"Any criticism he gets is just unfair," said Raven full-back Patrick Ricard. "So that he can play like him and win this victory, many doubters are silenced."
The Ravens will visit the Buffalo Bills with Seed # 2 on Saturday at 8:15 pm. ET.
Immediately after the franchise's first win since 2014, there was a lot of cheering and dancing in the locker room. Even trainer John Harbaugh performed a little dance.
Then Harbaugh gave Jackson the match point for the QB's first postseason win.
"It's something he won't have to talk about in the future," said Harbaugh, "and it's a meaningful thing."
In the days leading up to that playoff rematch, Jackson made it clear that his main goal was to end the conversation that he couldn't win the playoffs. He was 2-0 in the playoffs after losing 28:12 to the Titans last year when Baltimore was the AFC's top seed and a 10-point favorite.
Teammates understood the size of this game for Jackson when he spoke to them the night before the game, which he rarely does.
"When he speaks, he speaks volumes," said cornerback Marlon Humphrey. "When he speaks, you know he means business. When he was talking to the team, I was sitting in my room on Zoom and I said, 'I know we're going to win the game. I know Lamar it will have a great game. & # 39; "
With 136 rushing yards, Jackson was the second quarterback in the Super Bowl era to complete a total of 100 rushing yards and score a rushing touchdown in a playoff game and join Colin Kaepernick.
His best run was a 48-yard scramble, breaking through in the midst of the Titans' defense to negate an early interception and end the game at 10 a.m. In the second longest touchdown run after the season, he drove from a quarterback at a top speed of 20 mph.
"It's the best run I've ever seen a quarterback," said Harbaugh.
Jackson made one of the most memorable starts to an NFL career. He was the youngest quarterback to win the NFL MVP last season. He became the fastest quarterback to win 30 games in NFL history when he took a playoff spot in the season finale (his 37th game).
Now he finally has that elusive postseason win.
"I wasn't really concerned about it," said Jackson. "It's only my third year in the league. I don't care what people say. I'm just glad we got the win and (we can) go to the next round, that's it. "
Harbaugh, who led the Ravens to a Super Bowl in 2012, believes that Nashville win was a special one for what the team had to endure this season, from overcoming a COVID-19 outbreak last month to overcoming its Post-season hurdle by Jackson.
"I'll tell you now, this is the # 1 best win," said Harbaugh. "In perspective it will definitely make it into the top 5. But right now this is the best win of all time for me. And not just because of what was at stake, but also because of the guys and what it was for us meant team and for our boys – what it meant for all of our boys. This could be the best win I've ever been associated with. "