OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Shortly after the Ravens lost to the Titans, both quarterback Lamar Jackson and rookie running back J.K. Dobbins had some pointed comments about the team's performance.
"It looked like that team wanted it more than us. They were playing physical," Jackson about 30-24 overtime setback.
Dobbins added: "They just gave more effort than us. We just have to fix that."
Teams can move on from a tough loss, but a lack of effort is a more systematic problem.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh downplayed the comments by Jackson and Dobbins.
"A throwaway line like, ‘They wanted it more’ – a cliché like that – don’t agree with that," Harbaugh said. "I think if you’d ask Lamar, he’d kind of just shrug his shoulders and say, ‘Hey, after the game, we just try to find something to say.’ It’s not trying to be indicative of anything. He’s out there competing his heart out.
"And then, guys are supposed to go into press conferences and parse their words like Bill Clinton. That’s not what these guys do. These guys are athletes. They’re trying to compete and play, and then, everything they say gets minced. So, I don’t take it too seriously. That’s kind of meaningless.”
Baltimore's offense was inconsistent once again.
Wide receiver Hollywood Brown was targeted three times but did not catch a pass. Tight end Mark Andrews had a costly false start penalty on a 3rd and 1 that helped the Titans get the ball back and retake the lead in the fourth quarter.
The Ravens also missed several tackles, especially in the secondary. In one sequence, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw a 14-yard pass to A.J. Brown, who bullied his way into the end zone on third-and-10, avoiding tackles by Chuck Clark, Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey and Patrick Queen. Tannehill then ran up the middle for the two-point conversion with just over two minutes remaining.
"I don’t think it had anything to do about effort," Harbaugh said. "I watched the tape, and the effort was outstanding. Our guys were playing very, very hard. All you’ve got to do is watch the tape or watch the game – you can see that. It was a very hard-fought game. They played very hard, too.
"It was two teams that were going at it. And they made the plays at the end to win the game, [and] they finished the game better than we did. They were able to finish drives – we weren’t. They were able to get stops at the end and we weren’t. That’s the bottom line of the whole thing."
The Ravens are 6-4 and have to fight their way back into the playoff picture. The challenge will be tough this week because several players will miss the game against the undefeated Steelers because of COVID-19 issues.
Pittsburgh already beat Baltimore 28-24 in Week 8 and the team won't be tacking the Ravens lightly even with their roster issues.
"We are desperate too," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "We are all desperate to win this week. I imagine they view us in the same way, or I would imagine it would behoove them to do so. That is our attitude each and every week. We respect everyone and the level of desperation and urgency everyone has as we step into the stadium ready to match it."