Heisman winners collide as Cardinals visit RavensReuters | Arizona | Updated: 12-09-2019 05:36 IST | Created: 12-09-2019 05:35 IST
Lamar Jackson made an immediate impression on Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury. After watching Jackson torch Texas A&M for 453 yards in total offense and four touchdowns in the 2015 Music City Bowl as a true freshman at Louisville, Kingsbury headed for his cell phone.
"I called my agent and I was like, 'I've got your next guy,'" Kingsbury said this week, referring to Jackson. "And then to see what he has done, and to be able to transfer it to this level and still play this style of play and still be the best player on the field every time he steps on, it says a lot about his competitive spirit and how he attacks the game." Kingsbury and the Cardinals will visit Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens in a matchup of recent Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks on Sunday in the Ravens' home opener.
Behind Jackson, the Ravens (1-0) set team records for points and total yards (643) in a 59-10 victory at Miami in the season opener. Jackson, the 2016 Heisman winner, threw for 324 yards and tied a franchise record with five touchdown passes, four in the first half. "People all offseason said he couldn't throw," Kingsbury said, "and he comes out and has a perfect passer rating in Week 1. I love to see guys step up and answer the bell when people are challenging them."
The Cardinals found their own step-up guy last week in No. 1 draft choice and 2018 Heisman winner Kyler Murray, who passed for 308 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-27 tie against Detroit. While Jackson started early, Murray hit his stride late, passing for 238 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime, when the Cardinals overcame a 15-point deficit in the final six minutes of regulation. Arizona had 293 of its 387 total yards in the fourth quarter and overtime.
"He's obviously dangerous in the pocket," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said of Murray. "We'll just have to take the week and figure out the best way we can to try to stop him and that offense." Each team is more than its quarterback. Ravens halfback Mark Ingram II rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns in his first game after joining the team from New Orleans. The Ravens rushed for 265 yards and a 5.8 average per carry against Miami, which could be a problem for Arizona.
The Cardinals allowed an NFL-high 154.9 yards rushing per game as well as 4.9 yards per carry (27th) last season, although that did not show against Detroit, which had only 116 yards rushing and 3.6 yards per carry. Kingsbury's new-look Air Raid offense made good use of David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, weapons who were underutilized in 2018. Johnson had 137 yards of total offense (82 rushing) and had a receiving touchdown against the Lions, while Fitzgerald caught eight passes for 113 yards and a score.
The Cardinals placed right offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert on the injured reserve list with a right knee injury Tuesday. Justin Murray, who started last week after Gilbert reportedly tore his ACL in a Thursday practice, will remain the starter. Baltimore cornerback Jimmy Smith will be out for "multiple weeks," Harbaugh said, after leaving the Miami game with a knee injury, while fellow starter Marlon Humphrey missed Wednesday's practice with a back issue. Marquise Brown (hip) -- who had four catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns in just 14 snaps on Sunday -- and Ingram (shoulder) were limited in practice Wednesday.