One owned the defense — blowing by linemen, eluding linebackers, and carrying the ball as well as anyone in football.
The other let the defense own him — overshooting receivers, misreading coverages, and watching a cornerback carry the football past him.
At various points in his team’s 30-16 win over the Seahawks, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson looked superhuman. As for Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson? He was something equally noteworthy: human.
Wilson came into the game having played better than anyone else in the NFL through the first six weeks. He was on pace to record the best single-season passer rating ever, hadn’t thrown an interception, and had three fourth-quarter comebacks for his 5-1 team.
But late in the first half, Wilson drew a mustache on his Mona Lisa of a season when he tried to hit receiver Jaron Brown on a hitch route. Instead, Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters picked him off and took it 67 yards for a score.
The Seahawks were up 10-6 before that gaffe but would never lead again. For the first time all season, they didn’t have the best player on the field.
“I always wanted to play against Michael Vick,” Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said. “I guess I got the new era with Lamar Jackson. He did his thing today.”
Jackson’s 1,507 passing yards coming into the game were 14th in the NFL, but his 460 rushing yards were eighth. That’s not among quarterbacks — that’s among ball-carriers period.
His 6.7 yards per rush suggested he had overtaken Wilson as the most mobile QB in the league. His 116 yards on 14 carries Sunday all but confirmed it.
Never have I seen the Seahawks’ defensive linemen so mesmerized after a game. They didn’t even seem mad about the loss — just astonished by the guy they couldn’t catch. Comparisons to Vick abounded, as did relief Jackson wasn’t in the NFC West.
As defensive end Quinton Jefferson said: “I’m glad we don’t have to play him again.”
With the score tied at 13-13 near the end of the third quarter, Jackson ran for 13 yards to the Seahawks’ 8 on a third-and-15. He scampered into the end zone on the next play.
On the ensuing Ravens drive, he ran for 30 yards on a third-and-eight, which led to a field goal that put Baltimore (5-2) up by 10.
Wilson, on the other hand, played like his magic wand was in the repair shop. After that pick-six, he misfired on series after series — throwing downfield with confidence but rarely with accuracy.
His final line was 20-for-41 passing for 241 yards, one TD and one interception. And as unsightly as that is in the box score, it looked even worse on the field.
The Seahawks failed to score a touchdown on any of their final three trips to the red zone. Incompletions by Wilson preceded all three of the field goals they settled for.
You can’t be mad at the QB considering he had a triple-digit passer rating in each of his first six games. But on this day, the second-year-star on the Ravens outshined him.
“Lamar can really run. He had some crazy runs. Especially on some third downs and stuff,” Wilson said of Jackson, who threw for 143 yards on 9-of-20 passing. “He’s a tremendous football player.”
Most Seahawks fans would have taken a 5-2 start, and considering how close most of their games have been, the players should be happy with their record. Four of their wins have come by a combined eight points, and three required Wilson’s wizardry in the final quarter.
So Sunday wasn’t really a downer. The Seahawks’ faces said as much. This was a bad day against a good team that featured a great player.
Not sure how much they need to adjust given Jackson’s unique skill set. But man, those skills glistened at CenturyLink Field.
“He might be the fastest guy I ever chased with the ball in his hands,” Clowney said. “He can make anything happen for that team, and they’re all on the bandwagon with him getting what they’re supposed to be getting out of their quarterback. We got a great one, too.”
No doubt. But Sunday, it was clear who was greater.