NBC’s Mike Tirico On Lamar Jackson, John Harbaugh … And His Favorite Ravens Game

NBC play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico, who called the Ravens’ 19-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Dec. 2, believes Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has a chance to get back on the right track once he is cleared to play.

With Jackson having been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Ravens were unable to start their MVP quarterback against the Steelers. And although Jackson has not played up to the standard he set last season, Tirico believes the week off may give Jackson a breather ahead of the stretch run.

“‘What’s wrong with Lamar Jackson?’ was like a five-years-ago question. It totally feels like we’ve forgotten about that. Maybe that will help hit the reset button when you get back to Lamar playing — let’s hope that’s next week against Dallas,” Tirico said on Glenn Clark Radio Dec. 2, before he called Ravens-Steelers. “We always want to see the MVP of the league play because at the end of the day this is about watching great athletes, and he is one of the best and he does it in a unique and different way, so let’s hope he gets back soon.”

Tirico has a lot of faith in the Ravens’ organization and those who run the team to get through the COVID-19 outbreak. Tirico commended Ravens head coach John Harbaugh for his ability to lead his players in a professional manner and keep the team focused in tough situations, like the Ravens’ game against the Steelers Dec. 2.

In fact, Tirico believes Harbaugh is one of the best head coaches in the league.

“My Super Bowl pick was Seattle-Baltimore. Now, I probably shouldn’t bring that up, and the reason I picked those teams is because of the steady leadership of the head coaches,” Tirico said. “That’s what you have here in Baltimore right now with John Harbaugh, because this week is all about the steady ship — look, we can’t do everything, we can’t do anything we want to do, we just have to have the right attitude.”

Harbaugh and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin — coaches who produce consistent results — are two of the reasons Tirico enjoys the rivalry between Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Harbaugh is 124-79 as the coach of the Ravens, while Tomlin is 144-74-1 as the coach of the Steelers.

Tirico loves that those coaches are in the same division.

“That’s why I love this rivalry, because Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh are the same kind of people, same kind of thing, and it’s rare in any division in the NFL that you can have two coaches that have been in the same place for more than a decade because you have to have success to last more than a decade,” Tirico said. “It’s really hard to have long-term success when there is another team with long-term success in the division, and these two guys have done it.”

Tirico has announced many Ravens games in the past, but one that stands out to him is the famous “kick-six” game in which Will Hill returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown with time expiring in regulation to beat the Cleveland Browns on “Monday Night Football.”

Tirico thought about the moment when he was calling the “Sunday Night Football” game between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears Dec. 29. Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was the Browns’ head coach at the time of Hill’s return.

“I’ve had a bunch of fun Ravens games over the years. My favorite was in 2015, the kick that the Ravens had against the Browns on Monday night,” Tirico said. “… It was bizarre. The only reason I thought of the game — which is funny enough — is because I was in Green Bay and I saw Mike Pettine. And Mike Pettine was the head coach. I’m kind of thinking, ‘Yeah, when’s the last time? Let me just go through here.’ And, oh my gosh, the kick-six game.”

After years of announcing, calling a game is almost second nature for Tirico. When something interesting happens on the field, the description of the play comes naturally to Tirico. He said it’s important to not rehearse or plan how to announce exciting moments. He likes his announcing to naturally flow.

“I rarely, rarely, rarely think ahead to, ‘If this happens, I’m going to just say this,'” Tirico said. “As you’re preparing, a thought pops in your head and you go, ‘Ah, OK, I got it,’ but … I try to be as reactive [as possible].”

For more from Tirico, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox