OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Several Ravens learned a hard lesson about the NFL playoffs as rookies last season.
Baltimore had a couple of early miscues and never seemed to match the intensity and speed of the Los Angeles Chargers in a 23-17 loss in the wild-card round.
Those players now in their second year are confident they'll take that experience into the divisional game against the Tennessee Titans on Jan. 11.
They don't expect another disappointing performance.
“I think last year there were so many young guys on our team that it's hard to be ready for that. It's such a long year, and guys’ bodies start getting kind of worn down. There's no sense of that this year," said tight end Mark Andrews, who was held to three receptions for 31 yards in that wild-card game. "I know everyone has the big picture in mind, but [we] also have that narrow focus to get better each and every week. For us, it's just about knowing what's ahead, knowing that [if] you win, you go on. [If] you lose, you go home. We know what's at stake, and I think there's a different feel than there was last year for us, for sure.”
Andrews has emerged as one of the league’s best tight ends in just his second year. He finished with team highs in receptions (64), receiving yards (852) and receiving touchdowns (10) in the regular season.
Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. admitted that he was a bit overwhelmed by the intensity of the playoffs as a rookie. This season, Brown has emerged as one of the top young offensive lineman in the NFL. He is also more prepared for his second career playoff game.
“It was just a lot more intense," Brown said. "This year, I have a better understanding as far as where I am as a player and what it’s going to take.”
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson still thinks about the Ravens loss to the Chargers in the wild-card round. Jackson completed 14 of 29 passes for 194 yards with two touchdowns and an interception (78.8 quarterback rating). He was also held to 54 yards on nine carries.
"It’s still motivating me. I still haven’t played my second playoff game, yet," Jackson said. "So when we get into that, when I’m in that game, after that game, then I have an answer for that. But that game is over with. We’ve been having a great year this year, and we just have to keep it going. Like I said, I want a Super Bowl, so I’m not really worried about that, that first playoff game. That was my rookie season.”
Jackson is prepared to make the necessary adjustments this time around. He said the extra week of rest as the No. 1 seed was beneficial and he's been solely focused on winning his first career playoff game.
“Can't start too late," Jackson said. "You have to attack fast. It doesn't really matter what quarter it is. First or second [quarter], you have to attack. You just have to finish the game strong. You can't just go into the game playing half-assed. You'll have the same results.”