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Lamar Jackson ready to earn postseason redemption

Lamar Jackson's Ravens tenure arrived with a bang that has since transformed into a wonderfully frightening masterpiece.

Like the Big Bang, the initial explosion took a little bit of time to sort out. Jackson's MVP candidacy didn't immediately form, and it required a rookie-year run to the playoffs that included a bitter postseason loss.

Now, though, Jackson's Earth has formed, and life is in full bloom. Jackson will get his first chance to earn postseason redemption Saturday when his Ravens host the Tennessee Titans.

"Bro, I really hate it," Jackson said of the 23-17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers that ended his rookie season, via the Ravens' official site. "I can't wait to play this week coming up. So, I don't really want to talk about it anymore. It's over."

In that game, Jackson couldn't escape crushing turnovers, fumbling three times (losing one) and throwing an interception as the Chargers slowly built a lead. For three quarters, the Ravens looked completely out-schemed and outplayed.

But then Jackson awoke in the fourth, tossing two touchdown passes in the game's final 6:33 and putting Baltimore near midfield with a one-score deficit in the game's final minute. Jackson's lost fumble ended things, yet the final period of that wild-card contest gave us a preview of what was to come in 2019: an unleashed Jackson.

"That game motivated me. It's still motivating me," Jackson said.

His Ravens will meet a much different opponent Saturday in the Titans, who lean heavily on their hulking running back, Derrick Henry, but also have a young and hungry defense. In fact, they sound a lot like the Ravens.

Statistically, it's true. Baltimore owns the league's No. 1 rushing offense, while the Titans finished third in the regular season in rushing (138.9 yards per game) and racked up 201 rushing yards in their wild-card win over the Patriots. Baltimore and Tennessee also rank in the top 12 in rushing defense, though the Ravens are allowing 15 less yards on the ground per game.

A key difference: Jackson. Ryan Tannehill has had a career year in place of the benched Marcus Mariota, but Tannehill is no Jackson, the runaway pick for NFL MVP and bringer of doom to defenses across the league.

"I'm not a rookie anymore," Jackson said. "I've been around. I've seen everything they can bring. So, I just have to keep playing ball, and we're going to see when it comes."

The last time these two teams met, the Ravens finished with double-digit sacks. But way back then in Week 6 of the 2018 season, these teams looked much different. Those days still included Mariota and Joe Flacco.

We're in a new era now -- the Lamar Jackson era. We'll see if the Titans can send him home early, or find themselves as the latest addition to Jackson's list of victims.

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