For about a quarter Sunday, one teammate’s unintentional kick of another’s head and an admission of dizziness plunged the Ravens’ quarterback situation into further upheaval.
On the penultimate play of the Ravens' opening second-half drive, Lamar Jackson found his way 10 yards downfield on a quarterback draw. As he fell to the ground 3 yards short of the goal line, left tackle Ronnie Stanley clipped Jackson with his cleat. Jackson’s subsequent third-and-goal pass to tight end Nick Boyle was incomplete, and the Ravens settled for a field goal by kicker Justin Tucker and a 13-10 lead over the Atlanta Falcons.
“I had no idea until someone told me after the game,” said Stanley, who briefly left the 26-16 win after Jackson’s draw because of an ankle injury. “It was kind of all a blur. That play was all a blur. I had banged up my ankle, so I had no idea that I almost kicked him out of the game. I’m glad I didn’t.”
Jackson, though, has felt better. He said afterward that he told an athletic trainer that he "got dizzy a little bit" after the hit. That triggered the NFL’s concussion protocol, and after some time on the sideline in the Ravens’ medical tent, Jackson headed to the locker room for further evaluation.
The team’s medical staff wanted to gauge the condition of his brain. He wanted to know how the team was doing. The Ravens were already missing Joe Flacco, out for his third straight game because of a right hip injury.
“They just wanted to go through the protocol,” Jackson said. “When I got in the back, I asked one of our trainers, ‘Man, what’s the score?’ He told me it was still the same score. So I’m like, ‘I’m cool.’ But they need to hurry up and get me out of there. I wanted to get back on the field and help my team win.”
The Ravens were managing just fine with a quarterback who hadn’t played in a regular-season NFL game since weeks after Jackson won the 2016 Heisman Trophy. Robert Griffin III, signed in April after a year out of football and retained all season despite months of inactivity on game day, came on to lead a 14-play, 65-yard field-goal drive.
His first pass since Jan. 1, 2017, was a 7-yard throw to Boyle for a first down, and his second completion was a 14-yard gain by Ty Montgomery that pushed the Ravens into field-goal range. He did not run once, as he might have six years ago, when he was the NFL’s top offensive rookie with the Washington Redskins, but the ground game worked nonetheless.
“I just tried to stay calm and let everybody know that I’ve been preparing, studying and getting ready for the game plan,” Griffin said. “I feel like there is no difference when I get out there. Personally, it’s emotional because a year ago no one thought I would be playing in the NFL ever again. That was a special moment for me, but I tried not to make that the focal point of what was going on in the middle of a heated game and we needed to get the win.”
Eventually, Jackson was cleared to play. He was back on the field for the fourth quarter, and soon was celebrating the outcome of his third game as starter: three wins, no losses, no concussions.