Photo courtesy of baltimoreravens.com
January 9, 2019
They had lost three games in a row heading into the bye week. Sitting at four wins and five losses, any hope for the playoffs, let alone the division title, was nearly lost. Franchise quarterback Joe Flacco injured his hip against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Many Baltimore Ravens fans found themselves just hoping for a top draft pick. All of that negativity changed because of the emergence of one man: Lamar Jackson.
Once Jackson took over signal-calling duties for the Ravens, they won six out of their final seven games. Their only loss in that stretch came in a hard-fought Week 14 game in Kansas City against the Chiefs in overtime. Jackson has electrified a team and a fanbase that was down in the dumps after falling to 4-5, including a heartbreaking home loss to the New Orleans Saints. Jackson led the Ravens to home victories against the Bengals, Raiders, Buccaneers, and Browns, with road victories against the Falcons and Chargers.
After their final regular season win against the Browns, the Ravens finished the season at 10-6—enough to clinch the AFC North title over the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1). They qualified for the fourth seed in this year’s playoffs, and played at home on Sunday against Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers. The Ravens defeated the Chargers in Week 16, winning 22-10 in that contest. Jackson ran for 39 yards and threw for 209 yards and a touchdown in the win.
Fans pointed towards different factors ahead of Sunday’s game. One Ravens fan, Atholton senior Kyle Hess, said that if the “same defense shows up against the Browns shows up [again], then we don’t stand a chance. We need our defense to shut down Rivers.” The Ravens defense ranks number one in the entire league in numerous categories, but they nearly blew the lead in the final minutes against the Browns.
However, the defense was not enough. Even though the Ravens forced a Chargers fumble and blocked two kicks, Jackson fumbled the ball twice and threw an interception in the Ravens’ 23-17 loss, eliminating them from the playoffs. Faint “We want Joe” chants rang out throughout the third and fourth quarters. Unfortunately for Jackson, he picked the worst possible time to play his worst game of the season.
Disappointed Ravens fans, like Mr. Jimmie Mowder, pointed out key flaws in the game, but looked forward to the future. “I don’t think Los Angeles came in with a good gameplan, and I think that the Ravens initially didn’t adjust well enough to that gameplan,” Mr. Mowder said. “They have to teach Jackson how to throw. He’s a great player. I like him as a player.” With Joe Flacco likely to be released from the team in the offseason, Jackson has a huge offseason ahead of him to prepare for his future as the Ravens’ starting quarterback.
The Chargers came into Baltimore tied for the best record in the AFC. Defeating them would have certainly not been an easy task. Ravens fans were obviously hoping for a win on Sunday. However, regardless of the outcome, one thing is crystal-clear: Ravens fans hope that as long as Lamar Jackson is under center, the future is bright in the Charm City.