In the 1978 NFL season, the New England Patriots rushed for an NFL-record 3,165 yards.
That has been referred to as the record that will never be broken, because the NFL has evolved into a passing league, and teams simply don’t run like that anymore.
Until the Lamar Jackson-led Baltimore Ravens.
Since Jackson became the Ravens’ starting quarterback, the Ravens are rushing like no other team in NFL history.
Jackson has been the Ravens’ starter for five games, and the Ravens have totaled 1,152 rushing yards, a ridiculous average of 230.4 yards a game.
If a team did that for a full 16-game season, it would total 3,686 rushing yards and obliterate the 1978 Patriots’ “unbreakable” record by more than 500 yards.
In the nine games with Joe Flacco as the starting quarterback, the Ravens totaled just 834 rushing yards.
That’s an average of 93.7 yards a game, well below the league average.
In the five games Jackson has started, he’s fifth in the NFL in rushing, with 427 yards. Just ahead of him, fourth in the NFL in rushing over the last five games, is Ravens running back Gus Edwards, with 486 yards.
Edwards was a little-known undrafted rookie until Jackson took over as the starting quarterback, but the two of them have worked together wonderfully, with defenses never sure whether Jackson is going to keep the ball himself or give it to Edwards.
The average NFL team rushes for 114.7 yards a game this season. In the five games Jackson has started, the Ravens have rushed for 267, 242, 207, 194 and 242 yards.
The Ravens’ worst rushing performance with Jackson as the starter was 80 yards better than the NFL average game.
Meanwhile, when Flacco was the starter, the Ravens’ best rushing performance was 123 yards.
This might not be sustainable: Jackson has 86 rushing attempts in his five games as a starter, and there are valid reasons to doubt that an NFL offense can revolve around its quarterback running the ball that often.
But through five games, what Jackson and the Ravens’ offense are doing is remarkable.