The Baltimore Ravens just claimed their first playoff victory of the Lamar Jackson era over the weekend, defeating the Tennessee Titans, who dominated them in the Divisional Round last year. In doing so, they also overcame a 10-point deficit, marking the first time that Baltimore has won a game trailing by 10 or more points with Jackson at quarterback.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman cites the evolving maturity of his players and the system as the reason that they were able to do this, making the argument that they are now “more equipped to win in the playoffs” this year than they were a year ago.
In 2019, of course, they went 14-2, winning 12 consecutive games on their way to the number one seed in the AFC. This year, they lost five games and had to advance to the playoffs as a wildcard, marking the first road playoff game for Jackson in his young career.
“Our maturity and the experience we’ve accrued has gotten us to this point. If we keep working at that trajectory, it will serve us well in the playoffs and these different types of ballgames you encounter in the playoffs”, he told reporters yesterday.
He said that it was great being able to “boat-race” teams during the 2019 season, basically meaning leading from start to finish and often being able to pull starters at some point during the fourth quarter, but acknowledged that you can’t always win that way, and when you don’t, you have to be able to win in other ways.
“The reality of it, that doesn’t happen all the time. You might fall behind, you might end up in a tough situation, get a couple whatever kind of calls out there, the ball bounces a funny way”, he said. “And you’ve got to be able to overcome that and find different ways to find success in a game. So I think those are all very important things”.
I’m not sure what exactly is different, per se, between last year’s offense and this year’s offense. I don’t think that Jackson has taken a significant step forward in the passing game. They already had a dominant running game the year before last, and a Pro Bowl tight end, with marginal production from their wide receivers. The offensive line is not better, especially with the injuries.
Baltimore’s next opponent is the Buffalo Bills. Can the Ravens win another road game, or will Jackson be 1-3 in the postseason at the end of his first three years in the NFL?