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Lamar Jackson can deflect the attention and pressure on himself until the sun goes down.
Nevertheless, the spotlight on the Ravens-Chiefs showdown Sunday night in Baltimore will be squarely on the quarterbacks in the game — Jackson and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes.
And, facts are facts: Jackson is 0-3 against Mahomes, having lost to him and the Chiefs in each of the past three seasons. Conversely, Jackson owns a 30-5 record against the rest of the NFL.
“It’s not about me and Mahomes,” Jackson told reporters this week. “Not to me, probably to everyone else. But it’s the Ravens versus the Kansas City Chiefs.”
True and untrue.
Yes, there will be a number of other key players on both teams who’ll factor in the game for the Chiefs (1-0) and Ravens (0-1). But Mahomes was the NFL MVP in 2018 and Jackson in 2019 and they’re two of the most dynamic players in the game. As they go, their teams go.
In three career games against the Chiefs, Jackson is 50-of-95 (52.6 percent) for 511 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 78.9.
Mahomes, in his three meetings against the Ravens, is 93-of-132 (70.5 percent) for 1,136 yards with nine TDs, one INT and a passer rating of 116.2.
The numbers don’t lie.
In last season’s 34-20 loss to the Chiefs, Jackson threw for a career-worst 97 yards. Afterward, he conceded the Chiefs are “our kryptonite.”
“They did beat us three times or whatever, but that’s in the past,” Jackson said this week. “I’m not dwelling on those losses. We’re coming in Sunday night and we’re going to play.”
Ravens Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey this week acknowledged the Chiefs’ recent dominance when he said: “The way you go about changing it is addressing it how it is; looking at it head-on and go into the game and just try to beat them. It’s a great opportunity for us to go out there Sunday night and show we belong on the field with them.”
To do that, the Ravens will have to at least contain Mahomes and his array of skill-position talent, which includes wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce.
Hill had 11 catches for 197 yards in Kansas City’s 33-29 comeback win over the Browns last week. Kelce had six catches for 76 yards and two TDs in the game.
Matching up against Kelce may be particularly problematic for the Ravens, considering the trouble their defense had Monday night against Raiders tight end Darren Waller, who torched them with 10 catches for 105 receiving yards and a TD.
In fairness to Jackson and his team, the Ravens have been ravaged by injuries. They entered the season with 12 players on injured reserve and lost offensive lineman Tyre Phillips to a knee injury in the Week 1 overtime loss at the Raiders.
The Ravens have three running backs on IR — Gus Edwards (torn ACL), J.K. Dobbins (torn ACL) and Justice Hill (torn Achilles) — and have brought in veterans Latavius Murray, Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman in the wake of that wave of injuries.
Jackson’s task is difficult to begin with against the Chiefs, who were Super Bowl runners-up last season. He cannot make it any harder on himself by doing what he did Monday night, which was fumble three times, losing two — the second of which led to the Raiders’ game-winning touchdown.