Ravens left puzzled after season out of the blue comes to finish in opposition to Titans

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BALTIMORE — Because the clock ticked right down to zero, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey nonetheless couldn’t totally consider what was taking place. The lights had been simply as shiny. The stands had been greater than half empty. And the scoreboard learn Titans 28, Ravens 12.

Subsequent to him, a teammate put into phrases what he was feeling: This certainly needed to be a dream. They’d get up within the morning and it could be recreation day.

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“That’s kind of what it felt like, honestly,” Humphrey mentioned later. “As crazy as it sounds.”

It was not. Actuality struck for the Ravens on Saturday of their 28-12 loss, surprised at their residence of M&T Financial institution and dominated in a method that they had performed to so many groups beforehand. Baltimore grew to become the primary No. 1 seed within the playoffs to lose to a sixth-seed since 2010. The common season had belonged to their quarterback, Lamar Jackson, however of their postseason exit, it was Titans operating again Derrick Henry who stole the highlight.

Now, the Ravens must comprehend precisely how their 14-2 season — which included a 12-game profitable streak to shut the common season — is over after only one playoff recreation. Narratives will observe Jackson, the MVP frontrunner who dropped to 0-2 within the postseason.

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On the coronary heart of its defeat, Baltimore couldn’t cease the Titans’ run recreation or resolve their protection when it counted.

Henry rushed for 190 yards on 30 carries, every week after the previous Heisman winner powered by means of the New England Patriots. The Titans gave up 530 yards, however prevented Baltimore from scoring a landing till the fourth quarter. They even out-tricked the Ravens, catching them off guard with a landing go from Henry within the third quarter from a wildcat formation.

“We just beat ourselves,” Jackson mentioned. “We had, I had, a lot of mistakes on my half.”

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“We got our ass whipped,” operating again Mark Ingram mentioned.

How did Tennessee do it? For one, the Titans obtained the Ravens out of their consolation zone, rookie wideout Miles Boykin mentioned. Baltimore fell behind 14-Zero by the second quarter — one thing the Ravens confronted in a recreation since Week 4. That, gamers mentioned, made it more durable for Baltimore to stay to their gameplan.

Uncharacteristic errors had been additionally made. Jackson dedicated three turnovers (two interceptions and a misplaced fumble) after having simply eight (six INTs, two fumbles misplaced) your complete yr. Two of these giveaways resulted in scores.

Even Baltimore’s aggressiveness backfired. Within the common season, the Ravens had been 8-of-Eight on fourth-and-1 and led the league in fourth-down conversion proportion (70.8%). However on Saturday, Baltimore was stopped twice on fourth-and-1. The primary failed attempt, round midfield, led to a direct 45-yard landing from quarterback Ryan Tannehill to Kalif Raymond. On the second cease, the Titans proceeded to attain on a six-play drive that ended with Henry’s leaping go to wideout Corey Davis.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh mentioned he thought the Titans managed the road of scrimmage on either side of the ball. Tennessee’s defensive position created sufficient stress to forestall Baltimore from changing within the pink zone, the place the Ravens had been simply 1-of-4. On offense, the Titans’ linemen pushed and pulled to create space for Henry.

Finally, the Ravens had no reply for Henry. Earlier within the week, Baltimore security Earl Thomas III brought on a stir when he mentioned the Patriots “didn’t seem too interested” in tackling the operating again, including the Ravens had a “different mindset.”

However neither Thomas nor the Ravens couldn’t deliver the 6-foot-3, 247-pound operating again down usually sufficient. On one play, Henry stiff-armed Thomas to the filth and on one other, he burst by means of the road for a 66-yard acquire.

“When you arm tackle, he just runs right through it,” Thomas mentioned.

Jackson, in the meantime, was considerably higher on this postseason in comparison with his debut, a 23-17 loss in opposition to the Los Angeles Chargers. On Saturday, he was the supply of the Ravens‘ offense: 79 of Baltimore’s 88 performs ran by means of the 23-year-old, both as a go (a career-high 59 makes an attempt) or a run (20 makes an attempt).

This yr, he threw 365 yards and added one other 143 on the bottom. However the errors price him and the Ravens. His flaws had been simply massive sufficient to offer fodder for critics within the coming months.

“It isn’t simply Lamar,” Humphrey mentioned. “Actually the unhappy actuality of it’s this Ravens group, we’ve been right here two years in a row, and we’ve misplaced. So, I feel it’s a must to look your self within the mirror, and I feel this group’s identification proper now could be get within the playoffs and choke. … That’s simply the arduous reality.”

The primary time Jackson disillusioned within the playoffs, he got here again and took the league by storm. How will he reply a second time?

After the loss, Harbaugh instructed his gamers he was “grateful” for this season. He felt that they grew to become the very best group they could possibly be, he mentioned. As disappointing as Saturday’s defeat for the Ravens was, Baltimore remains to be a group that’s comparatively younger.

However within the meantime, the Ravens must digest they’re not transferring on.

“You never expect to be in a car crash until you’re getting into a car crash,” linebacker Matthew Judon mentioned. “I feel like that’s what they did to us. We were was riding. We were rolling high. And it hit us.”

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