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Pressure on Rivers helped Ravens sink San Diego

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Pressure on Rivers helped Ravens sink San Diego

When Philip Rivers picked apart the Ravens last year in San Diego, two stats really stood out.

First, Rivers never got sacked in the game. Second, the Chargers never even had to punt. People over-analyze football stats on a regular basis, but it's not hard to figure out the meaning of those two things. The Chargers had the ball a lot, didn't have problems moving it, and the Ravens couldn't stop them.

The Ravens made things different when the two teams met again on Sunday. They sacked Rivers six times and made it tougher for him to throw the ball at times, a big reason they rallied for a 16-13 victory in overtime.

Arthur Jones played a big role in that. He came up with two sacks, his first two this season, and continued his recent stretch of good football. Jones has been coming on of late, something that coach John Harbaugh talked about at his Monday press conference when speaking with the media. 

“I’ve just seen in the last three, four weeks, he’s taken a huge leap technique-wise," Harbaugh said. "His feet and his hands are tied together way better now than they were, and that’s a credit to [defensive line coach] Clarence Brooks and to Arthur in just deciding that he wanted to play with great technique. It’s really heartening for a coach to see a guy playing that well and to make the strides that he’s made, and it’s huge for our defense.”

Paul Kruger continued his good work with another sack. His pass-rushing is becoming a force. Terrell Suggs got one also and is showing some his power and force. They showed a lot of that on Sunday, which proved crucial because teams can't just let Rivers sit back there in the pocket and pick them to pieces. 

That's what happened last year. The Ravens seemed determined to make sure it wouldn't happen this year. 

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Mark Andrews both excited, and sad, about Hayden Hurst’s trade to Atlanta

Mark Andrews both excited, and sad, about Hayden Hurst’s trade to Atlanta

Mark Andrews is in a unique situation with his friend Hayden Hurst. 

He’s happy that Hurst will finally get his chance to be a No. 1 tight end in Atlanta and earn the targets he wasn’t able to receive in Baltimore.

There also won’t be the same relationship between Andrews and Hurst, and fellow tight end Nick Boyle, anymore. 

The three-headed monster was inseparable in the locker room, incredibly productive on the field and one of the brightest spots for the NFL’s best regular season team in 2019. Now, one-third of the group is gone. 

“I think, first of all, it was kind of a shock for me,” Andrews said Tuesday during a conference call. “And selfishly, Hayden being one of my best friends and being someone that I talk to every day and I'm super close with, I'm sad. I'm sad that I won't be able to have him next year, I won't be able to talk to him next year as much, but I'm also excited for him. I'm excited for him to get more of an opportunity with Atlanta.”

Hurst was shipped to Atlanta in mid-March to give the Ravens some much-needed draft capital. It also gave Hurst, a first-round pick in 2018, a chance to be a true No. 1 tight end threat.

The trade gave the Ravens the 55th overall pick in the NFL Draft later this month, as well as a fifth-round pick in exchange for Hurst and a fourth-round pick.

Last season, Hurst posted 349 yards receiving on 30 receptions with two touchdowns. Those numbers ranked fifth on the team in receptions and third in yards.

With Hurst out of the fold, Andrews, Marquise Brown and perhaps a few new offensive additions in the draft will have to pick up the load Hurst left behind.

“He's a great player,” Andrews said. “I love him to death, but it's exciting for him as well. But, firstly, I'm sad. I know Nick is sad. The three-headed monster kind of got broken up a little bit, but again, we're going to be just fine. Nick and I, we'll do our jobs, and then, obviously, we're going to find someone else to help us out.” 

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The last team to make the Super Bowl without having a bye? The 2012 Ravens

The last team to make the Super Bowl without having a bye? The 2012 Ravens

The NFL announced on Tuesday that the league will have a new playoff format beginning in 2020, one where seven teams from each conference would make the league's postseason.

While the new format helps those teams that finish with eight, nine or 10 wins and had previously been on the outside looking it, the new system also has its drawbacks. Each conference will now only have one team that earns a bye week, as the conference's No. 2 seed will now play on Wild Card weekend hosting the No. 7 seed.

Over the past seven seasons, all 14 Super Bowl participants were either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in their respective conference, meaning they had bye weeks. For the teams that made a deep run in the postseason, the extra week of rest proved to be beneficial.

So, it was worth wondering: Who was the last team was to play in a Super Bowl without having a bye week?

That would be the 2012 Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens finished the regular season 10-6 and as AFC North division champs. But Baltimore had the worst record of any division winner, giving them the No. 4 seed in the playoffs.

After Baltimore dominated then-rookie Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round, the Ravens traveled to the Mile High City for a date with the Denver Broncos. The Ravens upset Denver in double overtime after quarterback Joe Flacco found Jacoby Jones on a 70-yard touchdown to tie the game with less than a minute remaining in regulation.

In the conference championship, Baltimore traveled to Gillette Stadium and cruised by the Patriots, winning 28-13 and clinching their first Super Bowl berth since 2000. In Super Bowl XLVII, Baltimore held off an epic San Francisco comeback and defeated the 49ers in a thriller, 34-31.

The Ravens proved that a team can win a Super Bowl without having a bye, but it hasn't happened in a long time. With the new playoff format, that will likely change.

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