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Lamar Jackson shines in return from COVID-19: 'It felt like I didn't play for a whole season'

Lamar Jackson returned from a bout with COVID-19 to blast the Dallas Cowboys in Tuesday night's 34-17 victory.

Jackson and the Ravens ran all over a feeble Cowboys defense to the tune of 294 rushing yards. Jackson, who missed last week's game after contracting COVID-19, galloped for 94 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries while adding 107 yards passing and two more TDs.

"I wouldn't wish that on anybody, though. It's not good to have," Jackson said of contracting the virus, noting that he still can't smell or taste.

"It felt like I didn't play for a whole season," he added, via the team's official website. "I was like, 'It feels good to be back with my guys.' Even in practice, walking into the locker room and stuff, I was like, 'Man, I couldn't wait to see you, your faces.' It was like two weeks that I didn't see those guys. I couldn't wait to get out there and perform for those guys, because I know how much it would mean for us to win games."

While fellow QB Cam Newton admitted to struggling in his return from his COVID-19 experience earlier this year, Jackson looked as good as he has in weeks against a Dallas defense that couldn't stop an ant even if it had an anvil.

Tuesday marked Jackson's third career game with two or more passing TDs and one-plus rushing score. While he exploited the Cowboys' inability to stop the run, Jackson also threw the ball better than he has in weeks. The counting stats won't jump off the page -- Baltimore didn't need him to put up huge passing numbers -- but his accuracy was better than it's been recently, highlighted by the pin-point TD pass on the move to Marquise Brown in the corner of the end zone. Jackson snapped a streak of six consecutive starts with a sub-100 passer rating, which was the longest streak of his career as a starter.

With his 37-yard rushing score in the first quarter, Jackson became the only player in NFL history with 5,000-plus pass yards and 2,500-plus rush yards over his first three seasons. Jackson's 5.9 career yards per carry are the highest by a player with a career average of 10.0-plus carries per game in NFL history, next on the list is Bo Jackson (5.9).

In truth, no one knew how Jackson would return from the COVID-19 list. The still-spreading virus affects everyone differently. Some have taken weeks to get back into the flow.

The Ravens desperately needed Tuesday's performance from the reigning NFL MVP to keep themselves in the playoff hunt.

"Well, the one thing you do know about Lamar, you're going to get everything he's got -- that's really all you can ask for," coach John Harbaugh said. "He's going to give you whatever he has, and it turned out that he had a lot tonight. That was good to see. I don't think you could predict that.

"He came out to practice. He looked good in practice. He was strong and healthy. I'm just impressed by the fact that he was on top of the game plan so well. He'd been studying, obviously, through the whole time he was away, and he played a great football game."

That great football game pushed the Ravens to 7-5, one game out of the final playoff spot, ahead of a big AFC North matchup with the 9-3 Cleveland Browns on Monday night in Week 14.

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