Last week, I wrote about comments made by Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who after his team finished the regular season with a 14-2 record and a first-round bye, told reporters that he felt they may have been looking beyond their first playoff opponent, the Tennessee Titans, who handed them a 28-12 defeat.
“We’re taking it one game at a time, not peeking ahead. That’s what happened in the playoffs and we end up losing to the team people had us favored over”, he said. “It’s any given Sunday. You can’t underestimate no team, no opponent and that’s what we did. So I’m looking forward to this 2020 season playing the Browns first . . . Don’t underestimate your opponents. They caught us by surprise. That’s all it was”.
This is not incredibly dissimilar to the same position the Pittsburgh Steelers were in during the 2017 season, when they were accused of looking beyond their opponent and ahead to the New England Patriots…whom they never got to face again because they were handed an early exit coming out of their bye following a 13-3 regular season.
And like then, the head coach has had to deny that that was the case. The Ravens’ John Harbaugh spoke to reporters yesterday, and needless to say he was asked about his young quarterback’s remarks. “I don’t think we took them lightly, personally”, he said. “We just didn’t play well”.
The Ravens had a historically good offense last year, leading the league by scoring 33.2 points per game, on average. It was a common occurrence to see the team pull starters in the fourth quarter because they had so many large leads (in fact, they averaged a victory of more than 15 points per game).
Yet the Titans let them have it, limiting them to just 12 points in a game that was never particularly close. Jackson was able to put up some yards by the end, but that was in a futile effort to dig out of a hole. He had three turnovers in the game, including two interceptions.
“If you want to go back and rehash it, we can”, Harbaugh said of the loss. “But we’re going to try to become a better team in that circumstance at the end of the season, just like we tried to become a better team throughout the season and we were very successful with that”.
Previously, the veteran head coach talked about that loss and said that it was something that he hopes that he never gets over because he feels that any negativity of that sort can be used as positive fuel to grow and improve.
Baltimore has won the AFC North in each of the past two seasons, with Jackson going 19-3 as a starter in the regular season during that time, but they have gone 0-2 in the postseason. That is the next hurdle for this team led by a young quarterback.