Though the season ultimately fell short of his expectations, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson still made NFL history at Thursday evening’s NFL Honors ceremony by winning The Associated Press’ NFL Most Valuable Player award for a second time.
Jackson was the landslide winner, receiving 49 of the 50 first-place votes to fall one shy of another unanimous selection. For the 2019 season, Jackson joined Tom Brady as the only players to get all 50 first-place votes for MVP.
“I want to thank my organization, the Baltimore Ravens, for finally getting the deal done,” said Jackson, who signed a five-year, $260 million contract nine months ago.
“My offense [and] offensive line, I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done. I’m not out there blocking and catching the ball and doing everything. It’s a team thing for these awards.”
Jackson, who lost to Mahomes and the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, is the ninth player to win multiple NFL MVP awards in the Super Bowl era but is the only one to not win a Super Bowl. The other players who have won more than one NFL MVP since 1967 are: Peyton Manning (five), Aaron Rodgers (four), Tom Brady (three), Brett Favre (three), Mahomes (two), Joe Montana (two) and Steve Young (two).
When Jackson won MVP in 2019, he led the NFL in touchdown passes with 36 and set the single-season rushing record by a quarterback with 1,206 yards. This time, Jackson captured the award because he was the best player on the league’s most dominant team in the regular season.
In addition to setting career highs with 3,678 yards passing and a 67.2 completion rate, he was the driving force for a Ravens team that finished with the NFL’s top record at 13-4. He’s the third quarterback since the 1970 merger to win MVP without a 1,000-yard rusher or a 1,000-yard receiver, joining John Elway (1987) and Favre (1996).
But Jackson also went against the grain. He finished 11th with 24 touchdown passes and 15th in passing yards (3,678) to become the first MVP to rank outside the top 10 in both categories.
Jackson separated himself from the other candidates by playing his best against the best, recording 10 victories against teams that finished with winning records. That’s the most by a quarterback in a single season since at least 2000, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“It is an honor just to be among the greatest of all time,” Jackson told the Ravens’ website. “To do stuff like this is incredible. I never thought I’d be two-time MVP. If anything, I thought I would be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback by now.
“I still have stuff to prove to the naysayers. But I need the naysayers to keep going [and] keep adding fuel to that fire for me to keep being Lamar Jackson.”
Earlier Thursday night, running back Christian McCaffrey became the first San Francisco 49ers player to win the AP’s Offensive Player of the Year award since Jerry Rice did so in 1993. In his second season with San Francisco, McCaffrey led the NFL in both rushing yards (1,459) and total yards from scrimmage (2,023) while scoring 21 touchdowns, which was tied for the most by non-quarterbacks.
McCaffrey is seeking to become the sixth player to win Offensive Player of the Year and the Super Bowl in the same season.
“We got one more,” said McCaffrey, whose 49ers play the Chiefs on Sunday. “Let’s finish it the right way.”
The Cleveland Browns celebrated one of their most successful seasons since returning to the NFL 25 years ago by winning four awards, the most by any team.
The NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award went to defensive end Myles Garrett, who became the first Browns player to receive the honor. Garrett produced 14 sacks, 17 tackles for loss and 4 forced fumbles for the NFL’s top-ranked defense.
“To the city of Cleveland, this one’s for you,” Garrett said, holding up his trophy. “We’re going to bring home something bigger next time.”
The Browns’ Kevin Stefanski won NFL Coach of the Year by edging the Texans’ DeMeco Ryans. Stefanski, who guided Cleveland to the postseason despite using five different starting quarterbacks, beat out Ryans by one first-place vote.
The Comeback Player of the Year was quarterback Joe Flacco, who went from throwing to family members while out of the league for the first 2½ months of the season to leading the Browns to their first playoff appearance since 2020. A Super Bowl MVP 11 years ago, Flacco threw 1,616 yards and 13 touchdown passes in five regular-season games, winning four of them.
And first-year Cleveland defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was named Assistant Coach of the Year as Cleveland allowed the fewest yards per game (270.2) in the NFL since 2014 and the fewest by the Browns since 1957.
Meanwhile, the Houston Texans used two of the top three draft picks to become the fourth team in NFL history to sweep the AP’s Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year awards. Quarterback C.J. Stroud, the No. 2 overall pick in 2023, led the NFL with 273.9 yards passing per game and became the first rookie to top the league in touchdown-interception ratio (4.6). Defensive end Will Anderson Jr., the No. 3 pick, recorded seven sacks, the most ever by a Texans rookie.
The only other teams to sweep those awards were the 2022 New York Jets (wide receiver Garrett Wilson and cornerback Sauce Gardner), the 2017 New Orleans Saints (running back Alvin Kamara and cornerback Marshon Lattimore) and the 1967 Detroit Lions (running back Mel Farr and cornerback Lem Barney).
The NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award went to Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward, whose initiatives combat childhood hunger and support childhood literacy.
“There are so many kids that are looking to just partner and people to connect with,” Heyward said. “We might not have the same backgrounds, but I want to be an advocate, I want to continue to give back. I want to make sure they understand there are opportunities to be had.”
First appeared on www.espn.com