The Ravens aren’t being bashful about it — they want to beat the Titans not only because it’s a playoff game, but also because it’s the team that ended their promising run prematurely last season.
Baltimore travels to Nashville to face the AFC South champion Tennessee Titans this weekend for a date that they’ve had circled for ages.
“I think almost the second that we lost that last game last year, I was thinking about, ‘I want to get back to this moment. I want to get back to this moment, so we can see what we can do,'” tight end Mark Andrews said Wednesday, via NBC Sports Washington. “We’ve got such a talented team. For us, the sky is the limit.”
Baltimore nearly tripped its way out of a chance for redemption at all in the 2020 season, losing four of five games between Weeks 8-12 — one of those being against the Titans — to put the Ravens in a position in which they had to win out to guarantee themselves a playoff berth. They did that, squeaking past Cleveland in a thriller in Week 14 and cruising in every other contest to rebuild their reputation into one of the league’s most dangerous teams at just the right time.
Now they’re facing the same team in a similar situation, but with minor differences in the details. Last year the game was in the AFC Divisional Round and was played in Baltimore in front of fans before the pandemic reached the U.S. The Ravens were coming off a 14-2 regular-season finish and were the darlings of the league, led by soon-to-be-crowned MVP Lamar Jackson.
Some of those details don’t sound as alike as the ones surrounding what ultimately served as a playoff stunner. That doesn’t matter to the Ravens, who still see the flaming T logo and No. 22 lining up in Tennessee’s backfield.
“Definitely, because it was them,” defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. “So, now we get to see them again in the same scenario. Obviously, we have that sense in it, and we know what happened last year. And, obviously, we don’t want the same thing to happen. So, we’re going to come into Sunday ready to go.”
Their more recent history suggests we’ll see another close one, with Derrick Henry again playing a key role in the outcome. When Baltimore and Tennessee met in Week 11, the Ravens took a 21-10 lead early in the second half, then squandered it by giving up three scores on three straight possessions. By the time they found themselves in the extra period, the positive energy was concentrated on the opposite sideline.
The game ended with — who else? — Henry rumbling to a walk-off touchdown, capping a stunning comeback win and Baltimore’s third loss in four weeks. It felt like this might be it for the 2020 Ravens, the moment where they unravel.
But they haven’t, instead bouncing back to even earn the picks of plenty of analysts heading into the weekend. If they do that, they’ll get the bonus of sweet revenge over a team that has had their number in the last year.
“Every loss is definitely motivation,” Jackson said. “But we’ve played this team twice — playoffs and one time in the regular season — so we’ve just got to focus this time, just like the last five games or however many games it was. We’ve just got to focus, and we should be fine.”
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