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Ravens QB Lamar Jackson returns from cramps to lead late rally over Browns: ‘I didn’t pull a Paul Pierce’

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson on recovering from cramps in his legs and returning to game against the Cleveland Browns.

Willis Reed. Paul Pierce. Lamar Jackson.

The Ravens quarterback evoked memories of both basketball greats in the team’s 47-42 road win over the Cleveland Browns Monday night. Jackson left the team’s sideline late in the third quarter to head to the locker room and tend to cramps, only for him to jog back onto the field with two minutes remaining and throw a go-ahead touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. He later led the game-winning drive that ended in a 55-yard field goal from kicker Justin Tucker.

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The ESPN broadcast noted that Jackson was not on the Ravens’ sideline during a Browns’ scoring drive that carried into the fourth quarter. A camera captured a hobbled Jackson jogging to the team’s locker room. The Ravens announced that Jackson was suffering from cramps and was questionable to return.

When he left the game, Jackson had completed six of 11 passes for 81 yards and rushed for a season-high 124 yards and two touchdowns.

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Trace McSorley, who took over for injured quarterback Robert Griffin III two weeks ago against the Pittsburgh Steelers, entered the game, and his first drive ended in a three-and-out. He helped lead the Ravens into Browns territory, but appeared to hurt his knee on a zone-read and was tackled for a loss.

On fourth-and-5, Jackson came back from the locker room, grabbed his helmet and threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Brown to give the Ravens a 42-35 lead with 1:51 to play. Running back J.K. Dobbins scored the 2-point conversion.

After the Browns responded with a scoring drive to tie the game at 42, Jackson completed all four of his pass attempts to set the Ravens up for a Tucker field goal.

Jackson said after the game that his forearm began to cramp right before he overthrew wide receiver Willie Snead IV and tight end Mark Andrews on a third-quarter drive that ended in a punt. The cramping sensation later went to his leg, Jackson said. After an interception by outside linebacker Tyus Bowser set the offense up at the 1-yard line, Jackson handed off to Dobbins, who scored. Jackson later left for the locker room.

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Social media users were quick to poke fun at the video of Jackson hobbling to and from the team’s locker room, likening it to Knicks legend Willis Reed, who famously returned to the lineup to play in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers after a thigh injury sidelined him for Game 6. Reed scored just four points in the game but was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player after the victory.

Others said it looked more like Celtics great Paul Pierce, who was taken off the court in a wheelchair after suffering an injury in Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals against the Lakers. Pierce returned to the game and helped lead the Celtics to victory. But in 2019, Pierce revealed that he was not actually injured, but needed to use the bathroom.

Jackson said he was taking in salt and getting stretched out while he was in the locker room. And he made one thing clear: This was not a Paul Pierce situation.

“I was cramping. I didn’t pull a Paul Pierce,” Jackson said.

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