BALTIMORE – Is there anything worse than preparing all week for something you know is going to happen, and you still can't stop it?
If there is, it's got to be the fact of preparing for nearly two weeks for it.
Either way, the Cowboys had to know Lamar Jackson was going to play – that seemed rather evident for a while – and they also knew what type of offense he's going to run.
Yet, the Cowboys had no answer for him, and because of that, they had no answers for the Ravens' offense as well.
Baltimore had several guys making plays – with two running backs going over 100 yards. They had two receivers that caught TD passes of 20 yards or more.
And they had a defense applying pressure on the other side of the ball.
But make no mistake, the Ravens won this game because they had Lamar Jackson.
He was faster than everyone else, he was more dynamic than everyone else and certainly more elusive. He was the only real playmaker on the field – on either side of the ball.
But that's all they needed.
After the game, I called him a "beast" to Jaylon Smith. He called Jackson a "dawg." You can still call him the MVP as well – he certainly was in this game.
I guess you could also call him the "game-changer" – both literally and figuratively. No really knows for sure if the NFL moved the game from Monday to Tuesday, specifically to get Jackson back on the field, but if that was the case, you can see why.
The league didn't really give a detailed reason for the move, and considering the Cowboys now have to turn around and play another road game five days later while the Ravens get six days before a Monday night game in Cleveland, you have to wonder if the move was for Jackson. After all, he didn't get cleared by the NFL until Monday to be removed from the Reserved/Covid-19 list so it's unclear if he would've been able to play the game Monday night as it was initially rescheduled.
Either way, if that's what happened or it was just bad luck for the Cowboys, it certainly was a game-changing decision.
And if that was the reason, I guess you really can't blame the league for it – he's certainly fun to watch.
Jackson is one of the iconic, generational players that makes the NFL so exciting. Unless you're an opposing defensive coordinator, you want to see him on the field.
And for the Cowboys, it was the first time to see him up close and personal and for me, he didn't disappoint.
Let's be clear, I don't think he's the best quarterback in the league. He's not the best passer by any means and there will be teams out there who can stop the run much better than the Cowboys did for sure. And when they can truly force Jackson to throw the ball, then the Ravens will have trouble, like we've seen already this year.
But this wasn't one of those games. The Cowboys spent most of their time worrying about Jackson. Even when he didn't have the ball, you could see players such as Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins busting through the line for big plays.
Now, there were some moments, one drive in particular, where the Cowboys actually took their eyes off of Jackson a couple of times, and that was a bad move. The Ravens did a good job of putting the backs out in motion to take Leighton Vander Esch away from the middle on third-and-long situations. Jackson was able to survey the scene, wait for the opportunity, and then take off in the middle of the field that was now vacated. He did that a couple of times to extend drives.
Of course, there was the first touchdown of the game in which he just fooled Vander Esch and his teammates and kept the ball for a touchdown.
Just another example that this guy is such a freak of an athlete. He's been out for nearly two weeks after testing positive for Covid-19 and still comes back to run wild on this team? I know every person reacts differently to the virus, but he was just on another level. And to think, he probably wasn't even a full 100 percent for this game.
But he didn't have to be.
We knew going into this game, the Cowboys would have to play nearly a perfect game. They needed to get some breaks as well.
And you would've thought Justin Tucker missing a 36-yard field goal would be one of those breaks. Instead, the Cowboys just turned the ball right over, which led to a touchdown.
But the Cowboys missed three field goals. They missed some opportunities to score points in other drives, including the one at the end of the half. You don't really expect to complete a Hail Mary pass but when your playmaking receiver gets both hands on the ball in the end zone, you need to come up with it – if you want to win a game like this.
As it turned out, the Ravens scored twice as many points as the Cowboys.
They've now got twice as many wins as well.
And on this night, Jackson looked like twice the player of anyone else on the field.