"I had butterflies before the first tackle, but after I got tackled, it was game on," said Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson when asked about his nerves in his first start. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)
The Ravens made their intentions known early Sunday. With 11 straight rushing attempts on their opening drive, plus an additional two to start their second possession, the Ravens all but announced that their game against the Cincinnati Bengals would be won or lost by their ground game.
Good thing they have Lamar Jackson. In his first career start, the 2016 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback finished with 27 carries for 117 yards, both game highs in the Ravens’ 24-21 win.
The Ravens’ rushing performance not only helped erase a three-game losing streak. It also wrote some new entries in team and NFL record books:
» The Ravens’ 54 rushing attempts are the second most in franchise history. In 2011, they rushed 55 times for 290 yards in a Week 13 win over the Cleveland Browns. Ray Rice had 29 carries for 204 yards, while Ricky Williams ran 16 times for 76 yards.
» The Ravens’ 265 rushing yards are tied for fifth most in franchise history. They set their franchise high of 343 yards in 2003 against the Browns.
» With the Ravens' run-only first possession, they became the third team since 1999 to score a touchdown on an opening drive that had at least 10 rushing plays and no pass attempts.
» Jackson and Gus Edwards (115 yards) are the first rookie quarterback-running back tandem to surpass 100 rushing yards apiece in a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. New Orleans Saints running backs Chuck Muncie and Tony Galbreath are the only other pair of rookie teammates to record 100-plus rushing yards in the same game, doing so in 1976.
» Jackson’s 27 carries are the most by a quarterback in the NFL’s modern era, a period that dates to 1970. The last quarterback with more rushing attempts in a game was the Pittsburgh Steelers' Joe Geri, who ran 29 times for 85 yards in 1950.
» Jackson set a Ravens single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback and finished with the NFL’s second most by a rookie quarterback in the modern era. Only teammate Robert Griffin III had more, running for 138 yards with the Washington Redskins in 2012.
With the availability of Joe Flacco (right hip) still in doubt entering Week 12, Jackson and the Ravens could make another run at the record book Sunday against Oakland. The Raiders’ run defense isn’t much better than Cincinnati’s.