Who is the Baltimore Ravens' biggest rival
NFL - Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens: The end of the negative series - of all things against the new rival
Lamar Jackson won his first playoff game with the Baltimore Ravens against the Tennessee Titans (here you can see the highlights in the video). The rivalry between the two teams became an issue again after the game. But the Ravens' gaze is already on the next enemy.
When the last seconds of the wildcard game between the Ravens and Titans ran down, the big star of the last hour was no longer on the field. Lamar Jackson had headed for the cabin immediately after his kneeldown 39 seconds before the end of the game. There were no handshakes with the losing Titans.
"There is no reason for us to shake hands with each other," Jackson later explained his flighty departure. The heated scenes before the last game of the two franchises in November, when several Titans players danced on the Ravens logo before the game and had arguments with Ravens coach John Harbaugh, were apparently still very present in the minds of the guests .
"I just found it disrespectful," Jackson said. "We treat all of our opponents with respect. We showed greatness, so we just left the field." It's just another chapter in the newly flared rivalry between the two teams. Already spoke before the game ESPNCommentator Steve Levy rightly said that this encounter felt like a division duel due to recent events.
It was the third meeting of the two teams within a year. Exactly a year ago the Titans surprisingly knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs with a 28:12 win, in November Tennessee won the duel in overtime again with 30:24.
Baltimore Ravens dominate against Derrick Henry
The biggest difference to the previous two games: The Ravens' run defense and the associated performance of Titans star Derrick Henry. The running back had run together for 328 yards in the past two games. On Sunday just 40 more were added. It was Henry's lowest yield of the entire season.
"One of the best defensive performances of my career," his Ravens would have shown against the Titans, said Harbaugh, who made NFL history with his eighth playoff away win, proudly praised his team. The guests' game plan? "Physical, physical, physical," said defensive lineman Derek Wolfe.
Led by Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell, who missed the regular season game against the Titans due to injury, Baltimore dominated the line of scrimmage in the running game. The Ravens defense allowed just 13 points against one of the best offenses in the NFL, and after a shaky start to the game, allowed Jackson and Co. to make a comeback in the first place.
Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson takes first playoff win
The initial spark for the offense was - how could it be otherwise? - an explosive touchdown run by Jackson. Under pressure from four pass rushers, the most explosive quarterback in the NFL fled forward in the second quarter, dropping Kevin Byard at the height of the first-down marker and sprinting 48 yards for a touchdown. 10:10, the Ravens had equalized the game.
It was the starting signal for a courageous performance and an outstanding second half. Jackson made 17 of his 24 passes for 179 yards and ran on the ground for 136 more yards and a touchdown. ESPNs QBR metric rated its performance with 84.7 points (out of a possible 100).
It was a victory that was also of great significance for Jackson personally: In his first two seasons, he had been able to lead the Ravens into the playoffs twice, but had not played very convincingly and was therefore eliminated both times without a win. Since then, various media have repeatedly discussed the extent to which the extraordinary style of the Ravens offense is also suitable for beating strong opponents in the playoffs - and not just for dominating weaker teams in the regular season.
The fact that Jackson had never won a game ten points behind in his NFL career only reinforced that narrative. Against the Titans, the former Louisville star ended both in one blow.
Baltimore Ravens: The Super Bowl remains the goal
"I don't really care what people say. I'm just happy that we won and made it through to the next round," Jackson said, downplaying his personal success after the win. It was never about Jackson or Henry, said the young quarterback. The Ravens had beaten the Titans, that was crucial.
However, after their first playoff win in six years, the Ravens should not be satisfied for a long time. Baltimore had started the season as the hottest contender for the Super Bowl alongside the Kansas City Chiefs. The team now wants to live up to this claim - with a little delay.
For the next step towards the Lombardi Trophy, Baltimore now has to take on even better offenses than the Titans: In the Divisional Round, the team meets Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills, then it might go against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Ravens have also met twice in Kansas City in the past 16 months. In these games too, Baltimore left the field twice without a win. It's another series of negatives that Jackson and Co. would love to tear apart.
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