"We slowed ourselves down," said Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson when asked Cleveland Browns defense in the second half. "It wasn't really their defense." (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)
Lamar Jackson will be 21 years and 364 days old when he takes the field for the Ravens against the Los Angeles Chargers in their AFC wild-card-round game Sunday, the youngest-ever quarterback to start a playoff game in NFL history.
While fresh-faced quarterbacks have often struggled in postseason play, it hasn’t exactly been a case of the young and the feckless. Starting quarterbacks age 23 and under are 12-15 in playoff games in the NFL’s modern era, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com logs. (Nathan Peterman and Jarious Jackson were both 23 when they played, but not as starters.)
There is no correlation between getting marginally older and playing better, either. While Jackson will be the first 21-year-old to start a playoff game, the four quarterbacks who did so at age 22 went a combined 3-4.
Michael Vick, Jackson's childhood idol, was a record 22 years and 192 days young when he went 13-for-25 for 117 yards and a touchdown and added 10 carries for 64 yards in the Atlanta Falcons' 27-7 win over the Green Bay Packers in January 2003. The next week, in an NFC divisional-round matchup, Vick passed for 274 yards but threw two interceptions and was held to 30 rushing yards in a 20-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Two 22-year-old playoff starters are familiar to the Ravens — Ben Roethlisberger went 1-1 for the Pittsburgh Steelers; current Ravens reserve Robert Griffin III lost his only playoff start for the Washington Redskins — while the other one is perhaps less so. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Shaun King went 1-1 in January 2000 after taking over midseason for an injured Trent Dilfer, who joined the Ravens the following season.
Overall, the 23-and-under starting quarterbacks have averaged 198.3 passing yards and 14.4 rushing yards per playoff game while combining for 37 touchdowns (32 passing, five rushing) and 28 interceptions.