BALTIMORE — Ravens rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers learned some hard lessons in the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Flowers finished with five catches for 115 yards — one yard shy of matching Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce for the game-high — with a touchdown, but he made two costly mistakes that impacted the game.
After catching a 54-yard pass from quarterback Lamar Jackson late in the third quarter, Flowers was penalized 15 yards for taunting after the catch that moved the ball back to the Chefs’ 25-yard line instead of the 10.
Flowers then fumbled just before crossing the goal line on an 8-yard pass from Jackson that was recovered by Kansas City in the end zone early in the fourth quarter. The Ravens never recovered and were eliminated from the postseason with a 17-10 loss.
Flowers was clearly upset after the game as he met with the media. His teammates offered their support.
“I was just letting Zay know [that] he’s going to be a special player, and this is a moment in [his] career that … It’s never going to break you; it’s always going to make you,” fellow wide receiver Odell Becklham Jr. said. “And just being able to be there for him however I can … I feel the same way that they do. I wanted to win. I wanted to be playing in the Super Bowl. I came here and was going to give everything I had, regardless of the situation, regardless of anything, for that matter.
“I was just kind of sharing that it’s going to be alright. It’s just unfortunate – the way it ended.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended Flowers’ fumble after the game.
“We coach two hands when you reach for the end zone,” Harbaugh said. “He had two hands on the ball.”
Jackson is the leading contender for NFL MVP, but he also struggled against the Chiefs. He completed 20 of 37 passes for 272 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the end zone when he threw into triple coverage. He also ran for 54 yards and had a fumble when he was hit from behind.
Jackson took responsibility for his mistakes and made sure to console Flowers after the game.
“We’re going to get it back next time,” he said. “We’re not worried about that. We all make mistakes. It’s his first season. It’s my first time in this situation. It’s his first time in this situation. We’re going to bounce back. Nobody played the game perfect.”
Flowers had a solid rookie season and led the Ravens in targets (108), receptions (77) and yards (858). He also scored five touchdowns.
It didn’t end in a good way, but Flowers appreciated his teammates’ support.
“Those are my brothers. I don’t expect anything different from them,” Flowers said. “We all have each others’ backs.”