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Despite Layoff, Lamar Jackson Gives Defense Fits


Turns out the quick turnaround didn't affect Lamar Jackson too much.

The reigning NFL MVP didn't quite look himself just one day after being activated from Ravens' Reserve/COVID-19 list, but it certainly was enough for Baltimore to secure a 34-17 victory over the Cowboys in a twice-rescheduled Tuesday night game at M&T Bank Stadium.

Jackson completed just 12 of 17 passes for 107 yards – the third-lowest total of his career in a full start – but did throw two touchdown passes to one interception for a 101.8 rating.

More significant was Jackson's work with his feet. By the end of the night, Jackson had passed Arizona's Kyler Murray for the most rushing yards by a quarterback this season (669).

He finished Tuesday's game with 13 carries for 94 yards, his second-highest total this season, and set the tone early with a 37-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Afterward, linebacker 

Leighton Vander Esch blamed himself for not sealing the proper gap.

In all, the Cowboys allowed 294 rushing yards Tuesday night – the second-most yielded by the defense this season.

"Obviously, it was not a very good night at all and I think we've just got to stick together," Vander Esch said. "We've got to lean on each other and trust each other and have confidence going into the game that we're going to go out there and everybody's going to do their job, including myself."

Jackson missed the Ravens' game against Pittsburgh six days ago due to Reserve/COVID-19 rules but was officially cleared on Monday.

The Cowboys have faced a long list of top quarterbacks this season, including Seattle's Russell Wilson, Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, Atlanta's Matt Ryan and Arizona's Kyler Murray. When Jackson is fully on his game, no one can match his all-around skill set.

The Dallas defense got a glimpse of it Tuesday night.

"He's just a complete player that they obviously rally around," linebacker Sean Lee said. "Just when you have a play that you think you covered everybody and made a play, he runs and gets a first down. So, tough guy to play against and great player."

Said linebacker Jaylon Smith: "We had so much time to prepare and put together a game plan, and when you come out and don't execute, that's what happens against the reigning MVP."

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