The first week of the NFL regular season started with a bang and ended with a kaboom. But if you're the Baltimore Ravens, you're waking up on Tuesday morning picking shrapnel out of your helmet from a Monday night battle with the Las Vegas Raiders that left you battered and bruised, with the deepest of those wounds being self-inflicted. It was a fight that went past the wire and right into overtime, but that's certainly not how it began. Lamar Jackson and Co. jumped all over the Raiders with a 14-0 head start in the first half before seeing Derek Carr wake up to mount an impressive comeback in a 33-27 overtime win that many place squarely in the lap of Jackson.
That's because when he could least afford it, the former league MVP fumbled the ball and lost it, twice, and both were critical to explaining why the Ravens are now 0-1 on the young season.
"That ticked me off. I hate fumbles, I hate any type of turnover," Jackson said after loss, via Pro Football Talk. "Two hands on the ball. I just could've taken a sack, if anything."
His reaction on Twitter was a smidge less composed, though.
All in all, it was a mixed evening for Jackson,
The first of Jackson's two lost fumbles (he technically fumbled three times, but recovered the other) came in the fourth quarter when the Ravens were up 17-10 and trying to put the game away. He'd scrambled up for the middle before having the ball punched out on a tackle and recovered by linebacker Denzel Perryman, a costly mistake that was later turned into a five-yard touchdown by running back Josh Jacobs to knot the contest at 17-17 with nine minutes left in regulation.
Jackson would regain his composure and push the score to 24-17 before Carr answered with the help of tight end Darren Waller -- for seemingly the hundredth time -- on a 10-yard touchdown pass that pushed the game into overtime.
And that's when Jackson's second fumble buried the Ravens, and in gut-wrenching fashion, considering what transpired on the previous drive. Carr and the Raiders had the game all but won after mounting an impressive first drive in overtime that saw them fall just half a yard shy of a game-winning touchdown, before falling apart with a false start penalty and then an interception by Carr in the end zone when yet another would-be game-winning throw sailed through the hands of former Ravens wideout Willie Snead and into the hands of cornerback Anthony Averett.
All the Ravens had to do now was get into field goal range to potentially win it with a swing of the leg, but they'd have no such luck.
Carl Nassib would sack Jackson on the next drive and force a fumble the Raiders would recover on the Ravens' 33-yard line, and Carr made sure there would be no more chances for Baltimore -- head coach Jon Gruden opting against a field goal attempt and instead dialing up a play to receiver Zay Jones that saw him strut into the end zone for a game-winning 31-yard touchdown throw from Carr.
And with that, Jackson has to wear the first loss of the season like a bloody jacket.
He's already working mentally to move on from Monday night, seeing as they have an even bigger challenge heading their way.
That's saying the least, honestly, because that challenge comes in the form of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, who walked down the Cleveland Browns in the waning minutes of their Week 1 contest to start the season at 1-0 and serve notice they're still the class of the AFC. And considering that fight comes in only six days after a gutting loss to Las Vegas, there's no time to waste in sulking from a gutting loss in Nevada. Mahomes will put the Ravens through the paces and Jackson will have to match serve at every turn, and that includes protecting the football to prevent his Chiefs counterpart from gaining extra possessions that could be used to push Baltimore to a dreaded 0-2 start on the year.
"We have to prepare well and get ready for a great team Sunday night," Jackson said. "We've got to make something happen."