The Baltimore Ravens hosted the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round of the playoffs at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday night. What followed next was the worst nightmare for Ravens fans as they watched their 14-2 team fall apart in frustrating and heartbreaking fashion for the world to see.
Mistakes hurt Baltimore early and continued to do so as they repeatedly shot themselves in the foot throughout the entirety of the game. A promising first drive for the Ravens on offense was derailed by an interception by FS Kevin Byard after a high pass from QB Lamar Jackson went through the hands of TE Mark Andrews. A 15-yard penalty against Jackson for his tackle out of bounds on Byard gave the Titans excellent field position. After starting on Baltimore’s 35-yard line, it took eight plays for Tennessee to reach the end zone. QB Ryan Tannehill connected with TE Jonnu Smith for an incredible touchdown catch over CB Brandon Carr.
The offense turned the ball over once again on their next drive, this time by failing to convert on 4th-&-1 on their own 45-yard line. It took only one play for the Titans to make the Ravens pay as Tannehill found WR Kalif Raymond wide open down the field for a 45-yard touchdown.
Baltimore finally got on the board with 5:52 remaining in the first half as Justin Tucker nailed a 49-yard field goal to narrow the score to 14-3. After forcing a punt, the Ravens tacked on another field goal before the end of the first half. The highlight of the drive was an incredible one-handed catch by rookie WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown for 38-yards.
Any momentum that Baltimore’s offense had found quickly went away as they failed to convert another fourth down on their opening drive of the third quarter. Tennessee took over on their own 19-yard line but a 66-yard run from RB Derrick Henry on 3rd-&-1 set them up with a 1st-&-goal at the six-yard line. On 3rd-&-goal at the three-yard line, Henry completed a pass to WR Corey Davis for a touchdown from the Wildcat formation to go up 21-6.
Mistakes continued to stall the Ravens as Jackson was stripped for a fumble by DE Jurell Casey on the first play of their next drive. The fumble was recovered by rookie DE Jeffery Simmons at the 20-yard line of Baltimore. Six plays later, Tannehill took the ball into the end zone on a one-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 28-6.
With the third quarter winding down, the nightmare continued to get worse for the Ravens as Jackson threw another interception, this time to SS Kenny Vaccaro on a pass intended for rookie WR Myles Boykin.
Baltimore finally scored their first touchdown of the day with just over 11 minutes remaining in regulation. Jackson found TE Hayden Hurst for the 15-yard score. The following two-point conversion was unsuccessful as Boykin was unable to haul in Jackson’s pass.
The next two drives for the Ravens ended by failing to convert on fourth down, once on a deflected pass to Andrews and next on a dropped pass by Boykin. Baltimore was never able to climb their way out of the hole they dug for themselves early on and ended with only 12 points on the board.
A historic season with the league’s MVP quarterback ended in a disappointing upset at home. An offense that set the league on fire and set records was only able to muster 12 points after a week of rest. Drops, penalties and turnovers doomed the Ravens against a team that came to play with a chip on their shoulder.
Nothing will take away what Baltimore accomplished in the 2019 season, but such a lackluster loss for the Super Bowl favorites will leave a bad taste in the mouths of fans everywhere for the foreseeable future.
Though he struggled at times, Jackson became the first QB to ever pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards in a playoff game, finishing with 365 and 143 respectively.
The long offseason now begins for the Ravens.