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NFL
Opinion
Text in which the author defends ideas and reaches conclusions based on his / her interpretation of facts and data

NFL: MVP favorite Lamar Jackson misses out on the Super Bowl

After a promising start, which included a spectacular catch from his own attempted pass, the Ravens quarterback fell apart with a couple of turnovers

Super Bowl 2024
Lamar Jackson (left) is tackled by Chris Jones and Trent McDuffie in the AFC Championship Game.SHAWN THEW (EFE)
Antonio Ortuño

“There’s only one man left who can save us from Taylor Swift celebrating on the field at the Super Bowl...” read a post on the wildly popular NFL Memes account, which has millions of followers on Instagram and X, describing the plight of controversial Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson prior to Sunday’s AFC Championship game.

Jackson appeared to be the only figure in the entire conference capable of stopping Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, the dominant NFL team over the past five years and whose highly regarded tight end, Travis Kelce, has seen his profile skyrocket due to his relationship with the with the pop star. Swift has become a regular at Chiefs games, celebrating Kelce’s wins in style and stealing the spotlight in the process. Many saw Jackson as the guy who was going to put an end to the smoke and mirrors of the tabloid, non-football narrative.

Jackson and the Ravens were considered favorites in the betting stakes going into the game after a spectacular regular season. John Harbaugh’s team were 13-4 in the AFC North, earning the top seed in the conference, through the hands (and feet) of a relentless Jackson, who passed for 3,678 yards and added another 821 on the ground, a decent return for a running back, as if he were two players in one.

His performance was such that it silenced the doubts that have hung over him since his rookie season in 2018: among others, that he is a limited passer and that he takes too many physical risks by running the ball so often. But in 2023, the critics were silenced and Jackson became the frontrunner to be named MVP, an award he won in 2019 and one he will likely add to this season after overcoming inopportune and serious injuries over the years.

The statistics, however, proved insufficient: Jackson had a performance to forget on Sunday as the Chiefs beat the Ravens 17-10 to reach their fourth Super Bowl in five years. Not only was the “Taylor Swift effect” reinforced, but the ghosts that have haunted Jackson throughout his career reappeared at the worst possible time. The other perennial criticism of the Ravens’ QB are his poor performances in the postseason.

In six career playoff games he has a 2-4 record and Sunday’s game was his first conference final, which the Ravens reached by crushing the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round, a young team that was the surprise package of the regular season but not considered a true contender. Critics have argued that Jackson has a kind of mental block in the big games, that his performance in them drops noticeably and, consequently, his mistakes increase exponentially. And that was the case Sunday. After a promising start, which included a spectacular catch from his own attempted pass, Jackson fell apart with a couple of turnovers: a fumble that left the Chiefs in a good field position and an interception that cut short his team’s offense just outside the end zone. All of this was compounded by incomplete passes and irregular rushing gains. All in all, another year in which his critics will feel justified and another season in which Jackson will be forced to watch the Super Bowl on television.

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