Jackson catches everything except victory 9 receptions, 150 yards cap another stellar day, but WR says it wasn't enough

November 25, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Ravens wide receiver Michael Jackson ran another great performance through his mind in another dejected post-game locker room.

Nine receptions, a single-game high for Jackson's six-year career. Good for 150 yards, the second-highest total of his career. His third 100-yard game of the season.

Jackson caught slant-ins over the middle. He made twisting, off-balance, sideline grabs. He showed the body control and balance that, combined with his 6-foot-4 frame, are making him one of the league's most dangerous players. He helped put the Ravens in position for four field goals and their only offensive touchdown.

The only thing Jackson didn't do in yesterday's 28-25 loss was score. His best shot came on a 26-yard sideline catch late in the third quarter, when he beat Jacksonville cornerback Robert Massey, but was pushed out of bounds at the Jaguars' 3-yard line.

After an offensive pass interference call against running back Bam Morris in the end zone, the Ravens had to settle for a 33-yard field goal by Matt Stover that gave them a 25-10 lead with 1: 35 left in the third quarter.

Those would be Baltimore's final points.

"I'd like to say I would delete a touchdown from my day in order to win. But I didn't score, and we still didn't win," Jackson said. "Hopefully, we'll get a victory before we run out of games.

"It's like it [his performance] is totally dead," he added. "Anybody would be happy with a good game, but it's not like that now. I want to win, and we came up short again.

"I could have had 20 receptions for 200 yards and I'd still feel the same."

Quarterback Vinny Testaverde and Jackson found their groove early. Late in the first quarter, Jackson's 10-yard catch moved the ball to the Jacksonville 5. The Ravens had to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Stover to make it 10-0.

On the Ravens' next possession, an 80-yard drive that ended with a 29-yard field goal by Stover, Jackson got the offense rolling and the Memorial Stadium crowd buzzing with a leaping, 26-yard grab in double coverage in front of the Ravens' bench.

On the Ravens' last possession of the half, Jackson's 7-yard catch in traffic moved the ball to the Jacksonville 22. Stover's 41-yard field goal gave the Ravens a 16-10 halftime lead.

"I felt pretty good at halftime. I felt like it was going to be a big day, if we could only pull out this victory," said Jackson, who had four catches for 56 yards at the break. "I was concerned coming back out, because I've seen us do this [blow second-half leads] on a couple of different occasions."

Jackson did his part in the second half with 94 receiving yards on five catches. His first catch, a 38-yarder in which he broke away from Massey and into the middle while Testaverde was scrambling, brought the Ravens to the Jaguars' 17, and set up Morris' touchdown run.

"Just another great game for Michael," Testaverde said. "He's a guy who is kind of possessed with making plays and having success. As dismal a year as it's been, he's been a bright spot."

With 59 catches for 938 yards and 10 touchdowns -- all career highs -- Jackson could be headed to his first Pro Bowl if he finishes the season the way he has played thus far. He entered yesterday's game second in the AFC in touchdowns.

"I think he deserves it," Testaverde said.

Said Jackson: "Every year, you come in thinking about it [the Pro Bowl]. I'm shooting for it. I think Vinny deserves the chance, too. If you think personally, things are paying off for both of us. If you think of the team, we're not doing enough."

Pub Date: 11/25/96

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