In Sunday night’s 37-20 win over the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, Jackson outplayed Tom Brady and a New England defense off to a historic start. He ran for two touchdowns and threw for another against a defense that had allowed four offensive touchdowns in the first eight games.
During the final minutes of the game, the sellout crowd at M&T Bank Stadium serenaded Jackson with chants of “MVP.” Jackson’s teammates later echoed the sentiment.
“He played MVP-type football,” Ravens safety Earl Thomas said. “He’s separating himself.”
Jackson started the season as a long shot for MVP, with 50-to-1 odds. Now he is generating buzz in becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to total more than 1,800 yards passing and 600 yards rushing in the first eight games of a season in the Super Bowl era, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
On Sunday, he combined for 224 yards (163 yards passing and 61 yards rushing) against the only team since the 1970 merger to lead the NFL in points allowed, takeaways and sacks through Week 8.
Asked about hearing the MVP chants, Jackson said, “We got a lot of season left to play, so I worry about next game. I don’t really care about that. I appreciate it, but like I said before, I want something better than that.”
Jackson has led the Ravens to a 6-2 start, which puts Baltimore 1.5 games behind New England for the AFC’s No. 1 seed at the midway point of the season.
His 3-yard touchdown run — the first points allowed by the Patriots on an opening drive this season — sparked a 17-0 lead. When the Patriots cut the lead to 24-20, Jackson hit tight end Nick Boyle for a 5-yard touchdown pass. Jackson then sealed Baltimore’s fourth straight victory by rushing for a 1-yard touchdown with 3:12 left in the game.
Jackson finished 17-of-23 for 163 yards and a 107.7 passer rating. Brady, a three-time NFL MVP, was 30-of-46 for yards with one touchdown and one interception (80.4 rating).
“That’s our MVP, and that’s the league’s MVP, no doubt about it,” tight end Mark Andrews said of Jackson. “He’s a special player. A guy like that, you can’t replace. He’s just special.”
The 22-year-old Jackson became the youngest quarterback in the Super Bowl era to defeat a team that entered the game 8-0 or better. He is also the youngest quarterback to beat a Bill Belichick-coached team since Ben Roethlisberger in 2004.
“Everyone sees it. When he has the ball in his hands, anything can happen, and that’s awesome,” tight end Nick Boyle said. “It’s awesome for our offense. It’s awesome to build around him. He makes it really fun.”