Ravens Need Balance, Fewer Mistakes to Take Next Step in Postseason

Baltimore has lost in the divisional round the past two years.
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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens players are confident they are on the cusp of representing the AFC in the Super Bowl. 

Baltimore has made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, twice losing in the divisional round.

The goal this year is to make a deeper run and learn from the mistakes that ended the season. 

"It’s just the little details," wide receiver Marquise Brown said. "We’ve got to just take that extra step forward to execute every drive. In the playoffs, every drive means something – points. It’s about putting up points, field position, changing the field. 

"If you don’t put up points, change the field position. So, it’s just the little things that you’ve just got to be on top of. And the best team who plays that day is going to win. There are no re-dos; there is no next game like in the regular season. So, that’s really what it is.”

Brown said the Ravens need to find more balance to make a deeper playoff run. Baltimore had the league's top rushing attack but was ranked last for passing this past season.  

"Whenever you’re the No. 1 rushing [offense] and the [No. 32] passing [offense], that’s not right," Brown said. "That’s not balanced. So, we’ve got to find a way to balance our game. Even with our great rushing attack, we’ve got to be able to throw the ball, we’ve got to be able to move the ball through the air, and that’s something that we’re going to continue to work on and continue to try to implement into the offense more.”

Much of the focus on the postseason has been with quarterback Lamar Jackson

In his rookie year, Jackson struggled in a 23-17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in the wild-card round. He completed 14 of 29 passes for 194 yards with two touchdowns and an interception (78.8 quarterback rating). Jackson was also held to 54 yards on nine carries.

The Chargers utilized extra defensive backs to chase down Jackson when he scrambled out of the pocket and their zone defense forced him to throw outside the hash marks — an area where he struggled that season. 

In 2019, Baltimore finished with the league’s best record (14-2), No. 1 scoring offense (33.2 ppg), and broke the NFL’s single-season rushing record (3,296 yards). Jackson was unanimously named the league MVP, but the year ended with a thud when the Titans outclassed the Ravens 28-12 in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Jackson had three turnovers — two interceptions and a lost fumble — and was sacked four times. The Titans contained Jackson again with a zone defense, never allowing him to take over the game.

This past season, Lamar Jackson quieted his small circle of critics in a 20-13 victory over Tennessee in the wild-card game. Jackson ran for 136 yards with a long touchdown that changed the momentum of the game. 

However, the offense faltered in the divisional round against the Buffalo Bills. Jackson was under pressure for most of the game and threw an interception on a third and goal to Taron Johnson, who ran 101 yards for the score in the 17-3 setback. 

Jackson suffered a concussion against Buffalo and has not been made available to the media since that game. However, his teammates expect him to come back stronger next season.

"I know this for a fact; this offseason is going to be, probably, the best offseason, and we’re going to go to work," Brown said. "And we’re going to come back motivated and ready to go.”