Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh announced Monday that quarterback Lamar Jackson and several other players will not take part in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With the No. 1 seed in the AFC already clinched, the Ravens will rest Jackson, running back Mark Ingram, safety Earl Thomas, guard Marshal Yanda and defensive end Brandon Williams.
“It’s a rivalry game, it’s the Steelers, they have everything to play for and we recognize that,” Harbaugh said Monday. “We’ll be looking to put our absolute best foot forward, play our best football game with the guys we’ll be playing with, which will be for the most part most of our football team, with a few exceptions.”
Jackson, a second-year player considered by many to be the league’s MVP front-runner, finishes the regular season with 3,127 passing yards with 36 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also broke the NFL rushing record for quarterbacks with 1,206 yards and added seven rushing touchdowns.
The Steelers need a win over the Ravens, paired with a Tennessee Titans loss, in order to make the playoffs. Their path appears to have gotten somewhat easier.
The Ravens certainly would love to ruin the postseason hopes of their bitter AFC North rivals. And, with a bye during the first round of the playoffs, they might have been a bit hesitant to give Jackson two weeks off.
But neither of those reasons are good enough to risk losing the most important guy on their team to injury in an otherwise meaningless game.
Jackson indicated Sunday that he wants to participate.
“Of course I want to play,” he said. “No doubt.”
But he added that he was fine with whatever Harbaugh decides.
“It’s up to Coach,” Jackson said. “I’m chilling.”