It sure would be nice if we had a Pittsburgh Steelers game to be writing about this week…or even last week…but we don’t. and so here we are talking about the Baltimore Ravens as they get set to host the Tennessee Titans as the number one seed in the AFC side of the playoff bracket.
The Ravens posted a league-best 14-2 record during the regular season, winning their final 12 games, excelling enough that they were able to rest Lamar Jackson in the season finale against the Steelers, which saw them blow out a Devlin Hodges-led team with their unit helmed by Robert Griffin III, 28-10.
Jackson and company will be back on the field this weekend, and they will be doing so having virtually forgotten what it’s like to lose. It’s been a long time. But not for those who were here a year ago, particularly their quarterback, who still remembers their playoff loss last season in the Wildcard round to the Los Angeles Chargers vividly. They had to score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter just to make it a one-score game before Los Angeles’ defense quickly slammed the door shut with a game-sealing strip sack.
“Bro, I really hate it”, Jackson said in thinking about that loss. “I can’t wait to play this week coming up. So, I don’t really want to talk about it anymore. It’s over”. Nevertheless, he said that that defeat continues to motivate him. After all, he is 0-1 for his career in the postseason.
The Chargers were the first defense who had the opportunity to face him as a starter for a second time, and they played like they knew what to expect. The Titans did play the Ravens last year, but that was while Joe Flacco was still starting at quarterback. And Jackson has grown significantly since last season, anyway.
His focus is not on his last playoff defeat, though, but on his next game. And only his next game, because he understands that that is the best approach to take to get to the game that really matters. The one where the big piece of silverware is handed out, as well as a truck to the MVP.
“This playoff game is a Super Bowl game, because if you don’t win, you’re out”, Jackson said of the Divisional Round game against the Titans. “You’re going home into next season. So, I’m treating every game like it’s a Super Bowl game until I’m in there”.
He will have to win the next two games, with a potential AFC Championship game coming against either the Kansas City Chiefs or the Houston Texans, the week after this before he has the chance to experience what it’s like to play a game in a neutral stadium.