Lamar Jackson claims he was not pooping when he briefly exited last night’s Monday night classic between the Browns and Ravens. Despite cameras catching him scurrying into the locker room looking like a man with a serious butt problem, Jackson maintains that he had to leave the game because he was dealing with cramps. So there you have it. Jackson did not take one or several big craps in the middle of leading the Ravens to a thrilling 47-42 win.
Poop or no poop, this was still the game of the year. Two division rivals pushing hard to get themselves into the postseason is all you can ask for out of a Week 14 game. At times it felt like watching a bowl game, with both teams going back and forth and plumbing the depths of their competitive spirit.
Jackson, of course, was the star of the show. A few ill-timed slips in the first half left his pants muddied, but he also found in the Browns defense plenty of cracks for explosive runs. He finished the first half with nine carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns, and it was nice to see Jackson, who has struggled this year with inconsistent performances and COVID-19 symptoms, unclog the Ravens’ offense and get things flowing again. There are few better sights in football than watching Jackson break into the open and leave helpless Browns splattered all over the field.
The Browns weren’t just going to let themselves get wiped away, though. Even in losing this game, they further established that, yes, they are actually a good football team, one that has finally made good on all the undeserved preseason hype that was heaped onto them two offseasons ago. Gone are the days of Freddie Bathrooms standing on the sidelines, straining to make the right play call as his team grunted its way through another constipated possession. New head coach Kevin Stefanski has loosened everything up, and the offense now has a regular rhythm that puts its best players in position to pile on the points.
That offense was steaming last night. Quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 343 yards and two touchdowns, and running backs Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb spent the night smearing the Ravens’ defense. Chubb finished with 82 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, and Hunt added two touchdowns and 110 total yards of his own.
None of it was enough to stop Jackson from pushing through to get the win, though. After leaving the offense in the hands of Number 2 quarterback Trace McSorley for the better part of two drives while dealing with his cramps, Jackson returned to the field just in time for a fourth-and-five play from the Browns’ 44-yard line. Jackson rolled out, spotted Marquise Brown behind the defense, and tossed him a floater that put the Ravens up by five. The Ravens successfully went for two, and handed the ball back to the Browns with under two minutes left to play.
The Browns didn’t clench up, though. Mayfield got right back to dumping the ball into the hands of his receivers, and the Browns tied the game back up in just four plays.
But the Browns left too much time on the clock for the Ravens. Jackson’s runs had dried up by that point in the game, but his team didn’t even need a big, explosive play to get in position to scoop up the win. Jackson completed a few passes to get into field-goal range, and left it to Justin Tucker to attempt the game-winner from 55 yards out. Everyone in the stadium must have felt like their stomachs were doing flips while Tucker lined up his kick, and it was agony for the Browns fans in attendance as they watched him pinch the ball through the uprights.
What a game that was. It was a wonderful reminder that football really is a game of runs, and that the sport is at its best when both teams are willing to leave their guts out on the field.