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How entire Ravens team has adopted motto from star quarterback

Two words have defined the second MVP campaign of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Locked in.

For Jackson, “locked in” became an adopted personal motto in 2023. He clung to it when describing how this Ravens postseason run differed from the one four seasons prior. The circumstances were plenty similar. Baltimore, the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Jackson, on the verge of being named the league’s MVP. And in the 2019 playoffs, the Tennessee Titans stunned a Ravens team led by a 22-year-old Jackson who took the league by storm that year.

Jackson, now 27, made sure Baltimore did not suffer a similar fate this time. His performance in the Ravens’ 34-10 victory over the Houston Texans in the AFC divisional round on Saturday was singular. No other quarterback had ever passed for 100 yards, rushed for 100, had a passer rating better than 100, and scored two passing and two rushing touchdowns in one game. Until he did.

“Those guys just had our team’s number in the past, but it’s a different team,” Jackson said of the past playoff failures, partially exorcised after the Texans’ game. “Like I’ve been saying, we just have to stay locked in on what’s ahead of us.

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Going into the matchup against Houston, Jackson was of the “locked in” mindset to leave the past where it belongs.

“Just how things went before and me seeing different things now,” Jackson said in the week leading up to the divisional round, “that’s what has me so locked in.”

Even head coach John Harbaugh referenced “locked in” to describe Jackson’s performance during his postgame news conference Saturday.

“He’s been locked in from day one,” Harbaugh said. “That’s his term, and we’ve all ran with it. I think he’s directed this whole thing. Like he said, we have more work to do.”

Jackson has indeed been letting his teammates know that the goal is much bigger than winning one playoff game.

“He isn’t done yet. He has a lot left to prove. He wants to prove that. That’s why he’s so hungry,” inside linebacker Patrick Queen said. “That’s why you can see it in his eyes. You can see it in the way he talk, the way he’s acting right now. He has a lot to prove, and he’s going to prove that.”

‘Something different’ about Lamar Jackson in 2023 season: ‘He means it’

“Locked in” is self-explanatory, Harbaugh said. It’s an all-encompassing effort involving every fiber of the human body — “your eyes, your feet, your hands” — “supremely focused” on achieving one goal.

“You come to work, and you come to work ready to go to work and get locked in on what your responsibilities are and what your job is and make sure you’re prepared,” Harbaugh said. “Even as a football player, on the specific thing, when you line up, you lock in.”

Defensive end Kyle Van Noy, the two-time Super Bowl winner with the New England Patriots who signed with the Ravens after the regular season started, became immediately accustomed to Jackson’s mantra.

“I think it’s meaningful for everybody, but I think, for him, he’s said it all year,” Van Noy said. “And I think, you know, the three words that he’s said — ‘I’m locked in’ — and he means it.”

Fullback Patrick Ricard has known Jackson since the Ravens selected the 2016 Heisman Trophy with the final pick of the first round in 2018. He has noticed subtle changes in Jackson this year.

“There’s definitely something different about him. He’s always been mature. He’s always been locked in and focused. It’s just, I don’t know, if it’s determined, or it’s like, we got to this spot in only (his) second year and here we are again,” Ricard, referencing the disappointment against the Titans in 2019, told USA TODAY Sports.

As Jackson said of the 2019 playoffs loss: “You’re 22 years old. You still have so much more to see.”

That experience paid off Saturday against Houston, who blitzed him in spades. At the end of the first half, the rush got to Jackson. He took two sacks and the Ravens had three straight three-and-outs. Jackson responded in historic fashion.

During the regular season, Jackson was named first-team All-Pro for the second time in his career, had 29 total touchdowns (24 passing, five rushing) and finished with a career best 3,678 passing yards.

“Just knowing more just from seeing so much,” Jackson said. “In my six years, I’ve just seen a lot. I’d say that’s where I’ve grown the most.”

‘He knows what’s in reach’

Jackson and the Ravens navigated an awkward offseason regarding his non-exclusive franchise tag, a trade request, and eventually, a contract worth $260 million over five years with $185 million guaranteed. Injuries had prematurely ended his last two seasons; the Ravens missed the playoffs in 2021 and were a wild card round exit last year.

Quarterbacks coach Tee Martin told the Ravens’ team publication that Jackson entered the team’s offseason training program with high aspirations for the upcoming campaign.

‘That’s something I give him a lot of respect for,” Martin said. “Having already been a league MVP and signing a major contract, you come in hungrier than you ever have. That speaks to the man he is and his character.’

Jackson set career highs in completion percentage (67.2) and average yards per attempt (8.0) in his first season playing for offensive coordinator Todd Monken, who was hired to maximize Jackson’s passing abilities to evolve the overall offense. Monken has been impressed by Jackson’s ability to balance success with disappointment. He always enters the Ravens’ facility in the same frame of mind to tackle the question “what’s next?”

“He has a great way of compartmentalizing,” Monken said.

For those who have known Jackson for years, like Queen, that’s nothing new.

“It’s just another notch right now,” Queen said. “He knows what’s in reach.”

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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