The Baltimore Ravens are on a mission in 2024, with just one acceptable vacation spot: lifting a 3rd Vince Lombardi Trophy in Las Vegas at Tremendous Bowl LVIII on February 11.
The Ravens have been victorious on their two earlier journeys to the Tremendous Bowl – to cap the 2000 season and, most lately, the 2012 marketing campaign underneath present head coach John Harbaugh – however additional success has eluded them within the decade plus since, and that is regardless of six journeys to the postseason and three AFC North titles in that point.
5 of these playoff visits (and all three division wins) have include this 12 months’s likely-league-MVP Lamar Jackson at quarterback, however till beating the Houston Texans 34-10 final weekend, their star quarterback’s playoff return was a paltry 1-4 file.
Since Jackson was drafted in 2018, Baltimore’s 66 common season wins are second solely to the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs’ 75, however the place Patrick Mahomes and their AFC Championship opponents this Sunday have differed is success within the postseason – with Mahomes already having been to 3 Tremendous Bowls, successful two of them, equal to Jackson’s playoff win complete.
Previous to this season, the Ravens have been averaging simply 13 factors per sport by means of Jackson’s playoff profession, the second-lowest mark by any quarterback with not less than 4 playoff begins prior to now 30 seasons, forward of solely Andy Dalton’s 0-4 playoff file containing just one landing move and 6 interceptions.
Jackson, by comparability, had 4 complete touchdowns, seven turnovers and a 68.3 passer score within the postseason previous to the Texans sport – a passer score drop off practically 30 factors from his regular-season profession.
Baltimore’s playoff struggles after all cannot all be laid at Jackson’s door. It is a staff sport in any case, and it hasn’t been all unhealthy for the dual-threat QB, with him operating for 136 yards, together with a shocking 48-yard TD, in his first profession playoff win versus the Tennessee Titans within the 2020 wild card spherical.
He adopted that up with one other 100-yard dashing effort in his newest postseason success story in opposition to Houston in final week’s divisional spherical, prepared his staff over the road with three second-half scores (4 for the match) after the sport was all tied up at 10-10 at half-time.
The staff’s turnaround and dominance within the second half was supposedly triggered by a passionate, expletive laden half-time staff speak from Jackson.
“It might be inappropriate if I stated it,” he stated of his speech when addressing reporters after the sport. “A whole lot of cursing,” he added.
“We wasn’t actually doing something to that protection… they was enjoying nice. And their offense was enjoying nice as properly.
“However we wasn’t doing our job with our unit till the second half. We went to place up factors on the board, began shifting the ball, shifting the chains, and began wanting like ourselves.”
That’s certainly how the Ravens started to take care of the break in opposition to Houston, the offense which ranked fourth in scoring throughout the common season placing up 24 factors.
It was a efficiency extra harking back to that which we would grown to count on from the Ravens as they secured an NFL-best file of 13-4 in 2023, with Jackson returning career-best marks in completion proportion (67.2), passing yards (3,678) and yards per try (8.0) that appears sure to safe him a second league MVP award.
Forward of successful the award for the primary time in 2019, although, Jackson stated: “It is okay, however I am attempting to win the Tremendous Bowl… that is a staff award and that is what I need. I am not apprehensive about MVP.”
And that is nonetheless very a lot the case for Jackson. However, to even make the Tremendous Bowl, not to mention win it, first he and the Ravens need to discover a well beyond Mahomes and the Chiefs, who’re making their sixth-straight AFC Championship Sport look.
“I do not like competing with him in any respect,” Jackson stated forward of his newest conflict with Mahomes.
And you may see why: the pair have squared off 4 occasions beforehand, with the Chiefs going 3-1 in these contests – prompting Jackson to name the staff “his kryptonite” after dropping their first three conferences, previous to a wild, 36-35 win in Week Two of the 2021 season.
The defending champions overcame the tough circumstances of Buffalo final weekend – Mahomes victorious in his first profession street playoff sport – and so they definitely will not be fazed by going into Baltimore as they give the impression of being to finish their Tremendous Bowl goals this Sunday too.
“For those who’re right down to the (Philadelphia) Eagles within the Tremendous Bowl, right down to the (San Francisco) 49ers too by 10 factors with six minutes left to go, and also you come again to win these forms of video games, there isn’t any extra stress with something anymore,” former NFL quarterback Chris Simms stated on Professional Soccer Speak this week. “That is as stress packed because it will get.
“The Chiefs present up in these moments, whereas the Ravens are nonetheless flattening boundaries to indicate that they do not collapse within the conditions – final week (in opposition to Houston) went a protracted technique to dispelling that.
“The Ravens are in all probability the perfect staff in soccer if you have a look at the entire 12 months… however it’s the Chiefs and Mahomes.”
Jackson might not ‘like’ competing in opposition to Mahomes, however he is aware of that seeing the again of him and the Chiefs is important for him to achieve his final aim.
“To be a champion, you have to undergo a champion,” he stated. Vegas and the Vince Lombardi awaits.
Watch the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs tackle the Baltimore Ravens within the AFC Championship Sport this Sunday, with kickoff at 8pm stay on Sky Sports activities NFL; the San Francisco 49ers then host the Detroit Lions within the NFC Championship Sport from 11.30pm; watch Tremendous Bowl LVIII stay on Sunday, February 11