The Baltimore Ravens wanted to beat the Dallas Cowboys for Dez Bryant after he was denied the chance to go up against his former team by a late positive COVID-19 test, according to Lamar Jackson.
Bryant was re-tested after returning an inconclusive result, and when the subsequent test was positive, he was pulled from the game, which finished in a 34-17 success for the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
It was set to be the three-time Pro Bowler’s first chance to go up against the Cowboys since he was cut after eight years with the team in April 2018.
Jackson, back in the side after missing the 19-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 12 following a positive COVID-19 test of his own, only threw for 107 yards on 12-of-17 passing with two touchdowns and an interception against Dallas.
The reigning MVP also had a 37-yard rushing TD in the first quarter, making him the first player in NFL history with at least 5,000 passing yards and 2,500 rushing yards in his first three seasons.
Jackson also became the second quarterback in the Super Bowl era to have a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown of at least 30 yards in the first half of the same game, after Tim Tebow in December 2010.
Asked about Bryant’s withdrawal, Jackson said: “We were looking around for him, then he told us.
“It was like, we’re just going to have to pull the game for him; we’ve got to win that game for him, because we know how much it meant to him.
“He’s been talking about it for a minute now since he’s been here. So, I don’t like what happened, but it is what it is. We got the victory for him. I’m feeling for him, though, because I know this is a game he wanted to be in.”
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 9, 2020
Jackson revealed he was still experiencing some of the symptoms associated with COVID-19 but felt good being back on the field.
“I had little flu-like symptoms. I still can’t really taste or smell but I’m good now. That’s a fact that calms me,” said Jackson.
“I guess my sense of taste and smell is going to come back sooner or later, but I’m good now. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody, though. It’s not good to have.”
Bryant’s positive test left the Ravens’ passing game short a man, but they continued to impress on the ground.
Baltimore became only the third team since at least 1940 to record at least 100 rushing yards – they had 161 by halftime – in 35 successive games.