Ravens Distancing Themselves from Rest of Playoff Pack
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — There was a moment following the Ravens' victory over Buffalo that revealed the true character of the team.
Coach John Harbaugh just announced that Baltimore had clinched a spot in the postseason for the second straight year.
That was met with a tepid response and some subtle applause from his players.
The Ravens have loftier goals ahead of them, namely locking up that top seed in the playoffs and winning a third Super Bowl.
“It’s great to lock up a playoff spot, but I think everyone in that locker room has aspirations to lock up that No. 1 seed,” said Hayden Hurst, who had a 61-yard touchdown reception in the 24-17 victory over the Bills. “You know we want that home-field advantage. We have a couple games left to play, and we’re just going to focus on those."
The Ravens have beaten teams in a variety of ways over their nine-game winning streak.
There were routs against the Seahawks, Patriots, Bengals Texans and Rams.
There were hard-fought, one-score wins against the 49ers and Bills.
In the end, Baltimore has a winning formula that will carry into the postseason. The Ravens are also in position to claim the No. 1 seed in the AFC and potentially host a championship game in Baltimore for the first time in more than four decades.
“I feel like it just kind of proves where our guys are at,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I mean, we talk all the time. No test, no testimony. You want to be able to talk about something, do something special, you got to be tested, and this is the National Football League. You’re going to be tested.
“It helps us going forward. Look who we’ve been playing all the way here. We just got to keep getting better. We can play a lot better than we did, we can, and we’ve got to keep chasing that.”
The Ravens have scored 30 or more points in six of their 12 games this season. The dynamic offense is led by Lamar Jackson, who is an MVP candidate.
In the past two victories over the 49ers and Bills, the Ravens defense was the difference.
Ravens defensive tackle Chris Wormley batted a pass at the line of scrimmage on a fourth-and-one from their own 35 with 6:28 left against San Francisco in Week 13. Baltimore kept the ball the rest of the way on a 12-play drive, setting up a game-winning 49-yard field goal by Justin Tucker as time expired for the 20-17 win.
The following week, Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters knocked down a potential touchdown pass from Bills quarterback Josh Allen to John Brown on fourth down that sealed the 24-17 win.
That type of balance on both sides of the ball should bode well for the Ravens in the postseason. The close-knit team doesn't really care who paves the way for the victory.
The bottom line is earning the win.
The Ravens are 6-1 against teams currently in this year's playoffs. The lone loss was a 33-28 setback at Kansas City in Week 3.
“We want to be the heroes sometimes,” linebacker Mathew Judon said. “It’s usually Lamar and the offensive line that are the heroes of the game and they milk the clock. We focus on our situation, even though they drove the ball down the field. We knew bend but never break.”
Harbaugh loves the character of his team. He was proud of the way they reacted about clinching a spot in the playoffs.
“The guys kind of gave me a smattering of applause,” Harbaugh said. “They expected that. I think they’ve the right to expect that. It’s a good thing, but we have three more games and things to accomplish still.”