ORLANDO — Lamar Jackson headed to Orlando for the Pro Bowl with one goal in mind: Soak up as much as he could.
Not the Central Florida sunshine (which finally appeared on Friday), but any and all information from the rest of the Pro Bowlers. Though he’s likely going to be named the league’s MVP, Jackson is just in his second season and knows there’s so much more for him to learn.
From that standpoint, he’d call this past week a success.
“I didn’t really have an individual I wanted to learn from,” Jackson said after the AFC’s 38-33 victory in front of 54,024 at Camping World Stadium on Sunday. “I wanted to hear everybody’s stories. I wanted to hear what they had to pitch and put in our ear. It was just everybody.
“I dialed in on it and I learned a lot.”
That may make Jackson even more dangerous in 2020 because he already was pretty darn good, and he capped his first season as a starter by being named the Offensive MVP at the Pro Bowl. Jackson threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns with one interception and added two carries for six yards before leaving the game after three drives.
Jackson started the game – at 23 years, 19 days he’s the youngest quarterback to do so in NFL history — and led the AFC to the NFC 10-yard line before misfiring on a throw to Jarvis Landry that safety Budda Baker intercepted in the end zone. Jackson’s first TD pass went to Andre Roberts, though the play was initially ruled incomplete. After a review, it was changed to a 5-yard touchdown. Jackson hit his Baltimore Ravens teammate Mark Andrews for a 3-yard touchdown on the AFC’s third possession.
Jackson’s 104.4 passer rating was higher than all the other quarterbacks that played except Drew Brees (141.4) and Deshaun Watson (148 yards) and Kirk Cousins (181 yards) were the only other QBs to surpass 100 yards.
It was a heck of a way to cap a week that he had hoped would be informative than anything else.
“I was just surprised by everything because it’s different watching on TV, you know, growing up than actually being in it,” Jackson said. “It was like being a little kid in a candy store. I just wanted to see everything … and I have.”
Jackson’s 2019 season – 3,127 yards and a league-high 36 touchdowns passing and 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns rushing – was historic on numerous levels, most notably because he became the first player to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a single season.
He helped lead Baltimore to a 13-2 record (he sat out the regular-season finale) and the No. 1 seed in the AFC before being upset in the divisional round by the Tennessee Titans.