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Ravens vs. Titans final recap: an unexpected, expected result

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

All of those pushing the “revenge game” angle this week got their wish early, as it got chippy during pregame warmups when the Titans decided to goad the Ravens players and staff by gathering at midfield on top of The Shield, sparking a little dust-up between the two sidelines in anticipation of a hard fought battle between two old foes.

The game started out in a depressingly familiar way, with the Ravens offense mustering a whole three yards before sulking off the field for a three-and-out. The defense then allowed their first points to an opposing offense’s first drive in the previous six games, as Jonnu Smith caught a touchdown pass over linebacker Chris Board. The drive was doomed from the first snap when a pass interference penalty on Marlon Humphrey gave the Titans offense a free 39 yards.

Lamar and the offense came back out onto the field and, though it was a struggle, did managed to chisel their way down the field and put three points on the board with a 12-play drive lasting nearly seven minutes. The drive left much to be desired, with some ugly drops, more of the same on early downs, and an underthrown pass from Lamar to Mark Andrews in the endzone, but it was good to see them respond positively to some early adversity.

The Titans’ second drive looked like it was going to be more of the same, as Derrick Henry went straight to work with two eight yards rushes on the first two plays. Malik Harrison then made a big play to take down Henry on a screen pass, fighting through a blocker to do so. The rookie has come on strong midseason and continues to impress with displays of strength and moxie. Two plays later, Patrick Queen laid a big lick on Ryan Tannehill to force an errant pass, picked off by Tyus Bowser and returned 25 yards.

Unfortunately, the offense was not able to capitalize on the short field against the league’s 28th ranked redzone defense and, after a few good runs by JK Dobbins, was stopped short again. Despite an attempted jinx by announcer Jim Nantz, Justin Tucker promptly converted his 69th (nice) straight FG inside 40 yards to narrow the Titans’ lead to one point.

The vaunted Ravens defense came out and did their part again on Tennessee’s third possession of the game, stonewalling Henry on two runs before forcing Tannehill into another inaccurate throw, Pernell McPhee’s 6’3” 265lb frame in his face likely a contributing factor.

The Ravens offense stepped back on the field and JK Dobbins continued to punish the Titans defense with patient, decisive runs, racking up 27 yards, a touchdown and even caught a pass for two points to put the team ahead by a full seven. The rookie was clearly feeling himself early and reminded Ravens fans why the front office was so excited to add another stud running back to the already crowded room.

The defense came out and did their job once again, putting pressure on Tannehill and forcing bad throws, but a successful fake punt pass and a bailout roughing-the-passer penalty kept the Titans’ drive alive. The karmic forces of the universe kicked in, however, and the Titans were held to a field goal after recent trade acquisition, Yannick Ngakoue, recorded his first sack as a Raven and then promptly put yet another quick pressure on Tannehill to complete the defensive stop.

Coming out of the locker room down 14-10, Ryan Tannehill received no further respite, getting rocked by Matt Judon on the second snap before throwing an incomplete pass and leading offense to the bench without much of a fight.

The Ravens offense took the field once more and their most famous practice squad signing in team history, Dez Bryant, made his first catch as a Raven—albeit about 10 years too late and for just four yards. After that, the JK/Mark Andrews show pressed on, with the latter of the duo cashing in on a 31-yard Lamar Jackson dime for six, capping a seven-play, 74-yard drive and extending the Raven lead to 21-10.

The Titans looked like they might be breaking down on their second drive of the second half, but rebounded quickly with a 50-yard play action pass down the sideline to Corey Davis. The Ravens got bailed out in a hilariously ironic way, however, as the Titans lined Derrick Henry up for a direct snap right before their center chucked the ball backwards like a new bride with a bouquet, losing them 20 yards. The mishap took them out of striking distance and they settled for three points.

With the score at 21-13, Lamar and his offense took the field once more with about five and a half minutes left in the third quarter. Rookie receiver James Proche II reeled in his first catch on a key third down conversion to kick off the drive, with Dez adding two more short snags immediately after. The drive was sadly cut short after a deep pass intended for Devin Duvernay was intercepted by Titans safety Amani Hooker.

The Titans took the field again and went on a methodical, 11-play, 91-yard drive, but only managed to put up three more points after stalling out inside the Ravens’ five yard line. Despite the gift from their defense, the Ravens offense came out and only gained 15 yards on eight plays before punting the ball right back to Tennessee.

The Titans’ following possession saw them rumble down the field for 90 yards with a combination of strong running and passes to receivers who were left in single coverage, culminating in a touchdown catch-an-run during which AJ Brown was practically escorted to the endzone by four Ravens defenders, right before Tannehill walked in untouched for two to put the Titans up three.

Lamar and his entourage walked out onto the field one last time, in an all too familiar spot: 2:18 left on the clock and down by a score. The unit rolled down the field quickly, getting production from Jackson, Bryant, Snead and Andrews, but ultimately were forced to take the gimme kick from Justin Tucker and send the game to overtime.

Going into OT, the Ravens won the coin toss and took over possession of the ball. Despite this, they quickly went three-and-out after Lamar Jackson was sacked for a loss on second down.

This would prove to be the death knell for the team, as the Titans made easy work of a depleted and exhausted Ravens defense, capping off a long drive with a devastating 29-yard touchdown run from Derrick Henry.

It’s safe to say a plurality of Ravens fans expected a loss today, so it’s hard to say this is too much of a disappointment, but after the pregame jawing and the fight the Ravens put up during the game, it’s definitely a hard loss to swallow. The team will now have three days to prepare for an undefeated division rival in the Pittsburgh Steelers who forced Lamar Jackson into his most embarrassing performance as a professional.