The Ravens should have seen it coming. So should Chicago. Ditto for Houston. All three teams had quarterbacks starting their first-ever postseason games. Baltimore even took it a step further by starting a rookie in Lamar Jackson. The Bears lost when kicker Cody Parkey missed a field goal with less than ten seconds remaining in their game against Philadelphia. Both Jackson and Houston’s Deshaun Watson made some plays but, for the most part, were ineffective in losses.
It’s the plight of the inexperienced playoff quarterback. If you haven’t played in the postseason before, the likelihood of your success is not good. We’ve seen it before.
Joe’s Webb In 2012, the Minnesota Vikings were forced to play Joe Webb, a sixth-round draft pick in 2010, in their wild-card game with Green Bay. Webb was awful. He completed just 11 of 30 passes for 180 yards. Webb did throw a touchdown but also threw an interception in the Vikings loss.
Not A.J.’s Day Second-year quarterback A.J. McCarron was forced into action for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2015 when starter Andy Dalton suffered a fractured thumb late in the season. The Bengals would make the playoffs and played rival Pittsburgh in the wild-card round. McCarron was in way over his head against the Steelers defense, which picked him off once. The former fifth-round draft pick went 23-for-41 for 212 yards as the Bengals lost 18-16.
Hey Rookie Starting a playoff game as a rookie can be even more challenging. Webb and McCarron at least had some experience as an NFL quarterback before being thrust into a postseason situation. For the top two picks in the 2012 draft – Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III – their playoff debuts weren’t pretty. Griffin actually had one of his better seasons as a rookie, but played hurt in the wild card game and went 10-for-19 for just 84 yards with 21 yards rushing on five carries. Griffin’s Redskins lost to Seattle 24-14.
Luck and the Indianapolis Colts didn’t fare much better. Luck completed 28-of-54 passes for 288 yards. He did not throw a touchdown and was intercepted once and fumbled the ball away once. As a result, the Colts lost to Baltimore 24-9. Even Atlanta’s Matt Ryan failed in his first playoff game. The NFC Rookie of the Year, Ryan was sacked three times and intercepted twice as Atlanta lost to Arizona in 2008.
Same for Jackson When the Ravens beat the Chargers in Week 16 of the regular season, Jackson was 12-for-22 for 204 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t throw an interception and, though he was sacked three times, lost just two yards. The playoff game against the Chargers was much different.
Jackson looked every bit the youngest quarterback to ever play an NFL playoff game. The former Heisman Trophy winner had made a name for himself rushing for 695 yards in leading the Ravens to a 6-1 finish to the regular season. The Chargers took away the run game for Jackson limiting him to 54 yards on nine carries. In the passing game, Jackson completed just 14-of-29 passes for 194 yards. He was harassed all day by the likes of Melvin Ingram (two sacks) and Joey Bosa (one sack).