BALTIMORE — The ending of the 2019 season has been a cloud hanging over the Ravens’ franchise.
After finishing the season a franchise-best 14-2 and earning the top seed in the AFC playoffs, the Ravens crashed out of the postseason with a stunning 28-12 loss to the Tennessee Titans at home in the divisional round.
There are similarities to this year’s team.
The Ravens are the No. seed in the playoffs and quarterback Lamar Jackson is once again an NFL MVP candidate after winning the award in 2019.
Jackson, though, rejects the comparison of the past and present teams.
“[The] 2019 [season] is over with,” Jackson said this week. “We’re always talking about it. I always find myself talking about it, but it’s different. That was just my first full season [starting] in the NFL and my second year in the league, at that, but it’s a different mindset. [It’s] a different group of guys. I just feel like all around, we’re different.
“We were 14-2. It looked like we were going to be unbeaten. I felt like all phases were just playing at the top of our game at the time. I don’t know where it was when we just hit a hump. We just couldn’t get it done that January, but I strongly feel like this year it’ll be different.”
The Ravens are going to have to wait a week to find out who they will play in the divisional round.
It could be a team they have already played this season.
The Ravens did not play the Titans in 2019 before they met in the playoffs.
Baltimore was able to move the ball against the Titans, amassing 530 total yards, but the Ravens could not keep pace with Tennessee.
The Ravens also had no answer for Titans running back Derrick Henry, who had 195 yards rushing and threw a touchdown pass on a trick play.
This Ravens team is more experienced and determined not to repeat the past.
“We put up 500 yards up in that game; we just didn’t score touchdowns,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s really the bottom line, and by the end of the game, our defense was a little worn out against a really good running team. So, it’s a narrative, we didn’t win the game, [and] we didn’t score enough points, but it’s wasn’t like we weren’t moving the ball. We just didn’t execute in the red zone very well. So, that was just a football game.
“We had really good practices and went back and kind of looked through that and notes and things like that. We practiced great, guys had good spirits. I think we had a good game plan; we just didn’t get the job done on certain plays. So, that’s how football goes. So, not really, I guess the long-winded point here is that you just look at where you’re at with your team at this time and make the decisions that are best as you see it.”
Those who were with the 2019 team and those who were not are aware of the lasting effect the loss has had.
“When they were so close to achieving something so great that only a select few people in this world get to do, it kind of eats at you knowing it was right there, and [you] had it,” said inside linebacker Patrick Queen, who was drafted in 2020. “I think they don’t want to repeat that, and honestly, me being in my position, not being here [in 2019], I don’t want them to repeat that, and I don’t want to be in that situation myself. We’re going to do everything that we possibly can do just [to] be ready for when the time comes.”