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Ravens will need more than emotion to beat Denver


Ravens will need more than emotion to beat Denver

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Fueled with emotion from the impending retirement of Ray Lewis and a fervent home crowd, the Baltimore Ravens dispatched the Indianapolis Colts in the opening round of the AFC playoffs.

It's going to take more than just unbridled enthusiasm to knock off the top-seeded Denver Broncos on Saturday.

In defeating Indianapolis 24-9 on Sunday, the Ravens (11-6) drew inspiration from a crowd that never stopped cheering before, during and after Lewis' final home game. The standout middle linebacker intends to retire after Baltimore's playoff run, and the Ravens had no intention of seeing Lewis end his 17-year career with a home loss.

``It had to have an impact. The emotions were real,'' coach John Harbaugh said Monday. ``It was tangible. We all felt it.''

Now, however, the Ravens take to the road to face the Broncos (13-3), who have won 11 straight - including a 34-17 rout in Baltimore on Dec. 16. The Ravens should have plenty of spirit left from Sunday, but Harbaugh isn't necessarily counting on it.

``There's probably an element that we'll carry forward because you're always building on what you are,'' he said. ``Hopefully we take all the things that happened and we take it into that game emotionally and carry it with us. But this is a new game. It's a whole new environment. It's a whole new situation for us. So I think the slate is wiped clean in that sense. This will be a new challenge for us.''

And what a challenge it is. Not only do the Broncos own the best record in the AFC, but they're coming off a bye and playing at altitude against a team they've already beaten handily. Oh, and there's also the matter of Peyton Manning, who's 2-0 lifetime against Baltimore in the postseason.

Manning vs. Ray Lewis with everything on the line. It doesn't get much better than that.

``They are always classic,'' Lewis said. ``It's just one of those chess matches. He knows me very well. I know him very well. ... But at the end of the day, it's not about me and me and Peyton. It's about their team against our team. I love our team right now.''

And the Ravens, in turn, love their leader. All the players, as well as the coaching staff, savored the once-in-a-lifetime scene at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.

``The crowd was incredible. It was one of those historic moments that anybody that was there is never going to forget,'' Harbaugh said. ``I was so proud of our fans, so pleased that we all have something that we will be able to talk to our kids and our grandkids about - a Baltimore football moment that's going to live on. That's kind of why you do this, to be part of moments like this.''

Lewis was in the middle of it all, playing for the first time in 12 weeks after being sidelined with a torn right triceps. He returned to lead the Ravens with 13 tackles and provided his usual unyielding leadership.

``He played well. He was physical at the point of attack, he did a good job in the pass game,'' Harbaugh said. ``He held up pretty well.''

When the Ravens faced Denver last month, the Broncos raced to a 31-3 lead and coasted to the finish. But Baltimore played that game without Lewis, safety Bernard Pollard, guard Marshal Yanda and tight end Ed Dickson. All will be available Saturday.

``It's got to be a positive,'' Harbaugh said. ``We're more full strength now than we've ever been all year. So it's the right time to be healthy, and I'm hoping those guys will have a big impact.''

In other news, the Ravens cut linebacker Sergio Kindle from the practice squad Monday. Kindle was the 43rd overall pick in the 2010 draft, but spent his entire rookie season on the reserve/non-football injury list after fracturing his skull while falling down a flight of stairs. He played in one game last year and one game this season.

``It was kind of mutually agreed upon between the two of us,'' Harbaugh said of the move. ``He's hoping for an opportunity somewhere where he can maybe take the next step.''


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Ravens' Matt Judon jokingly asks 'how's the real estate' in Kansas City after seeing Chris Jones' lucrative deal

Ravens' Matt Judon jokingly asks 'how's the real estate' in Kansas City after seeing Chris Jones' lucrative deal

Over the past two weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs have carved out two lucrative contracts. Last week, QB Patrick Mahomes signed a record $503 million deal, and on Tuesday, defensive end Chris Jones agreed to an extension with a maximum value of $85 million.

As Kansas City has taken care of its stars with nice paydays, Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon has taken notice. After seeing reports of Jones' deal, Judon sent Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu a tweet, jokingly asking "how's the real estate" in Kansas City.

Mathieu, who Kansas City signed to a three-year, $42 million deal last offseason, responded saying it's a "nice bang for ya buck."

The tweet, for all intents and purposes, was likely a joke, but there was some hidden meaning behind it. Judon, who will play the 2020 season for Baltimore under the franchise tag unless the two sides are able to agree to a long-term deal by Wednesday, has stated multiple times he believes he's earned a lucrative pay-day.

Additionally, Baltimore tagged Judon as an outside linebacker rather than a defensive end, despite him playing the majority of his snaps at DE. With this distinction, Judon was expected to earn nearly $2 million less in 2020 than had he been designated as a defensive end.

But, after hearing Judon's concerns, Baltimore decided to ante up and pay the 28-year-old a salary of $16.8 million, a number right in the middle of the two positions' franchise tender salaries.

In a Zoom conference in June, Judon said he's "blessed" to be playing under the tag.

“I’m blessed, regardless,” Judon said. “If I play under the franchise tag, or if we come to a long-term deal, I’m going to be happy regardless."


Plus, Baltimore fans shouldn't worry. Even if Judon wanted to play in Kansas City, it's unlikely the team would be able to afford him.

In addition to Jones' lucrative deal, Kansas City just signed Frank Clark to a five-year, $104 million deal last offseason. Add in Mahomes' record deal, as well as likely future extensions for stars Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs likely don't have the money to pay Judon what he feels he deserves.

If Judon builds off his solid 2019 campaign, he'll have plenty of leverage with Baltimore come contract negotiations next spring.

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Lamar Jackson reacts to Madden 21 rating: ‘I wish it was better’

Lamar Jackson reacts to Madden 21 rating: ‘I wish it was better’

Madden 21 released a few ratings of top players in this year’s game, and to no one’s surprise, Lamar Jackson is perhaps the game’s most fun player.

Jackson is the game’s fastest quarterback with a 96 speed rating, paired with a 95 overall throw on the run rating, as well as a 94 rating for throwing under pressure. His throw power is 10th in the game at 92 overall.


But Jackson did take a little exception to his overall rating, which is a 94 -- good for the third best quarterback in the game behind Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson.

“I wish it was better,” Jackson said Monday evening on SportsCenter. “But hey, it’s better than it was last year. I guess we can roll with it till the season starts.”

Jackson, the cover athlete for this year’s game, started last year’s game at just a 76 overall.

Jackson wishes his rating was a little better this year due to his improvement from his rookie season to his second year in the league.

“I just think I did better than last year,” Jackson said. “I did a lot more than people expected, and our team did.”

As for what Jackson guessed his rating would be before the big reveal?

“At least 96, 97 probably,” Jackson had said.

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