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Patriots star Cam Newton has Ravens' respect, but ‘Superman’ isn’t flying quite so high

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has been watching Cam Newton since before he became Superman.

When the New England Patriots quarterback broke out at Auburn, winning the 2010 Heisman Trophy, Jackson was only 13, a rising dual-threat quarterback himself. He remembers Newton’s Clark Kent-esque shirt-ripping celebration and what his ascendance meant.

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“A lot of us looked up to him,” Jackson said during a video conference call Wednesday. “He’s a mobile quarterback. He did his thing. He won the Heisman, won a college championship, won [the NFL Most Valuable Player award], went to the Super Bowl, stuff like that. So I followed him a lot, wanted to get to where he’s at."

And now Jackson’s set to start against him Sunday night at Gillette Stadium. It won’t be their first time on opposing sidelines; in 2018, Newton, then with the Carolina Panthers, dazzled in an impressive win over the Joe Flacco-led Ravens, finishing with 271 yards of total offense and three scores. In mop-up duty, Jackson was 4-for-5 for 46 yards and a passing touchdown, and added three carries for 26 yards.

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Their Week 10 reunion finds them at unexpected points in their careers. Jackson, the reigning MVP, has not found last season’s magic. His passing numbers, by almost every metric, are down, and he’s averaging 5.9 yards per carry after 6.9 in 2019. But the Ravens are 6-2 and likely to make the playoffs for the third straight season.

Newton, the 2015 MVP, has struggled for New England (3-5) after a fast start. Hurt by a depleted receiving corps and offensive line, Newton ranks 25th in QBR this season. He has 10 total touchdowns and seven interceptions, but eight of those scores have come on the ground.

“Obviously, the last time we played against him, he had a very good game against us,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “We remember that. So that’ll be the challenge. He’s an excellent quarterback, very aware player, very talented, great arm, can beat you with his legs as well. So that’s our challenge this week.”

Newton had one of his best games of this season Monday, passing for 274 yards, completing 77.1% of his passes and rushing for two scores in a 30-27 win over the New York Jets. He’s 3-4 as a starter overall, having missed one game after a positive COVID-19 test.

“You have to be aware of him at all times,” Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe said. “People forget that he won the MVP not too long ago. ... So he’s still got it. He’s still a good football player. I’ve got a ton of respect for him.”

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