The Baltimore Ravens are Out of the Playoffs: Perhaps They Should Have Lost to the Steelers?

Photo courtesy of Yahoo.com

By G.Stryker
SteelerNation.com

The story of the 2019 Baltimore Ravens has come to a close. They were the #1 seed in the AFC, playing at home. Neither their MVP candidate (QB Lamar Jackson), 12 pro bowlers, or 14 wins could help them on Saturday as they lost badly to the Tennessee Titans, 28-12.  

This is a team that had the #1 offense and #4 ranked defense in the league. They played and beat Seattle, New England, San Francisco, Houston, and Buffalo, all playoff teams, en route to winning 12 straight games to close out their season. So what went wrong? … They should have lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Stryker, you’re crazy?!?! Hear me out. The Ravens were a young team and success came to them quickly and easily. Huge blowout win in week 1 against the Miami Dolphins, followed up by a strong win against the Arizona Cardinals. Then, 2 losses to Kansas City and their worst loss of the year to Cleveland in weeks 3 and 4. Then came the showdown against the Steelers, who held a late lead before losing in overtime off of two Justin Tucker field goals. Down the stretch, aside from the 49ers game, none of the other victories were in doubt. They had a laugher of a season. Eight of their wins, they scored 30 points, six of those wins were by 40, and one by 50. A far cry from Steelers fans who didn’t see their team score more than 27 points in any game this year.  

Winning was so easy for them that even resting Lamar Jackson and a multitude of other starters the last week of the season, they still had an easy time beating the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only did they beat the Steelers, but they rubbed their nose in that victory. Celebrating like they won a Super Bowl against the Steelers triage unit that didn’t need to rest starters because they were all injured. As the Ravens players were laughing and celebrating that win against the Steelers, I looked around M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore and thought, they’re not winning the Super Bowl.  

That young Ravens team was overconfident, success came easily, and any adversity would shake that foundation. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think they would lose to the Titans. Perhaps KC in the AFC Championship game, or an NFC team in the Super Bowl. They just didn’t seem to be mentally tough, and neither were their fans. They were front runners, used to having a lead, and when they didn’t have it, their stadium was quiet. Heck, they were biting their nails after the Steelers took their only lead of the game, 7-6 on a Benny Snell touchdown run. The air went out of the place, in a meaningless game, playing their backups. And the stadium stayed that way until Devlin “Duck” Hodges fumbled the football with under 2 minutes in the first half, setting up their touchdown before the half.  Then the place exploded, and the fans piled on, the only way they knew how… with the lead.  

Honestly, it felt like the Steelers were the team with the better record the way Ravens fans greeted me. Trying to act tough against their division rival’s fans. You know you have the #1 seed locked up and this game is meaningless, right? No, they had to beat the Steelers, and nothing else mattered. If only they lost, that Titan’s game might have gone differently. Instead, they won easily with backups, cocksure of their abilities, and no one was standing in their way of getting their 3rd Lombardi Trophy.  

Now losing would not have put the Steelers into the playoffs instead of Tennessee. The Titans still held the tie break advantage and still had the ability to play the Ravens last night, after beating the Patriots in Foxboro. But if the Ravens lost to a bad Steeler team, even in a meaningless game, perhaps they would have been hungrier entering the playoffs. Perhaps they would have realized they needed to work hard, concentrate on fundamentals, and not get carried away by their own press clippings?

When the Ravens won their first Super Bowl, who was their last loss? That’s right Steelers fans, it was against our team. In 2000, the Ravens lost a squeaker at home 9-6 in week 9. It was the last game that season when the Ravens lost the turnover battle. After that, they relied on a ball control offense, excellent special teams, and an all-time defense to win their first title.  

In 2012, a week 13 game in Baltimore, the Ravens lost to the Charlie Batch led Steelers who put together two fourth quarter scoring drives on their way to a 23-20 victory. Inexplicably, after Ray Rice scored a late 3rd quarter touchdown to put them up by 7 points, he was never given the ball again for the rest of the game. This was a big reason why the Ravens fired their offensive coordinator Cam Cameron the following week. Their quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, was put in charge of the offense, and even though they backed into the playoffs, Joe Flacco had one of the single greatest quarterback playoff performances as he went 4-0 with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions and their second Super Bowl win. Without his quarterbacks coach being in charge of the offense, I don’t think Joe would have performed so well.

As head coach Mike Tomlin says, “Iron sharpens iron,” and these heavyweight matchups against bitter division rivals is the rudder that steers the ship of success for these programs. Losses have the most impact of changing a team’s identity, and one more loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers could have had a whole new perspective and outcome for the Baltimore Ravens this year. Alas, the Super Bowl fantasy that the city of Baltimore had of a third Lombardi trophy this year, is nevermore…

 

Do you have other thoughts about the Ravens’ season? Leave them in the comments section below.

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One Comment

  1. Steelernation

    January 13, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Over confident, disrespectful, belligerent. They got what they deserved. There never will be a young buck who will have as many records as Tom Brady. Jackson is way overrated. He knows this. He is a one time wonder. His mama should have instilled humility to him. Big bucks with a whole off season to sit there and realize he will never ever be Tom Brady. Tom had class. Jackson knows no class.

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