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Instant observations from the Ravens' 30-23 loss

Instant observations from the Ravens' 30-23 loss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Five instant observations after the Ravens fell to the Patriots, 30-23, on Monday Night Football, after a second-half Baltimore rally fell short:

1: The Ravens fell out of first place in the AFC North, but still control their playoff destiny.

At 7-6, the Ravens trail the Steelers (8-5) by a game. However, the Ravens have already beaten the Steelers once, and face them again on Christmas in Pittsburgh. The Ravens will win the AFC North if they win their last three games (vs. Eagles, at Steelers, at Bengals).

2. Losing cornerback Jimmy Smith to an ankle injury could be devastating blow to the Ravens’ defense.

Smith was injured in the second quarter and never returned. He was in obvious pain and was helped off the field without putting any weight on his injured leg. Smith is the Ravens’ best corner, capable of covering the opponent’s best receiver one-on-one. Ravens cornerback Jerraud Powers also left the game with a fourth-quarter concussion. It was uncertain how long Smith would be out, but imagine if Smith were still out of the lineup on Christmas against the Steelers. In that scenario, how would the Ravens defend Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown? The answer to that question could be – not well enough.

3. Ravens safety Matt Elam got torched for a touchdown at a critical time.

The Ravens had pulled to within 23-20 and had momentum in the fourth quarter. But after Powers left the game, Matt Elam entered the game to play safety. The Patriots immediately took advantage. Chris Hogan ran right past Elam on a post pattern, and Tom Brady hit Hogan in stride for a 79-yard touchdown. It was a tough spot of Elam to be in. But to give up a touchdown that quickly, that easily, was unacceptable. To say Elam has been a bust as a former first-round pick (2012) would be an understatement.

4. Tom Brady was magnificent – again.

Other than Elam’s gaffe, the Ravens were not that bad defensively. That shows you how good Brady is (25 for 38, 406 yards, three TD’s, one interception). Brady made one big mistake, when he was intercepted in the end zone by Eric Weddle. But the Patriots made uncharacteristic turnovers on special teams, and left the door open for a Ravens comeback. Brady slammed that door shut.

5. The Ravens still have to be more consistent running the football.

Joe Flacco had another 300-yard passing game, but Kenneth Dixon (11 carries, 39 yards) and Terrance West (two carries, two yards) didn’t give the Ravens enough balance. You have to wonder if the Ravens will ever find a consistent rushing attack before next season.

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The Ravens appear to have their entire coaching staff returning for the 2020 season

The Ravens appear to have their entire coaching staff returning for the 2020 season

While the Ravens roster will likely remain mostly together for the 2020 regular season, it appears the coaching staff will stay entirely intact, too. 

After both coordinators, Greg Roman and Don “Wink” Martindale, had interviews with the Browns and Giants, respectively, those jobs were filled by Kevin Stefanski and Joe Judge. 

And more recently, quarterbacks coach James Urban and tight ends coach Bobby Engram were requested for interviews by the Eagles. Harbaugh said both Engram and Urban pulled out of the running and weren’t interested.

“It looks like our staff is going to stay together,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I can tell you that. I’m not saying anything couldn’t happen; there are always things brewing for a certain period of time.”

The Ravens have every offensive starter from the divisional playoff game under contract for next season, and now appear to have the offensive coordinator and all of the position coaches back on-board for another run too. The Ravens set a franchise record with 531 points, led by Lamar Jackson.

Things are still fluid, as a job opportunity for anyone on the staff can pop up out of the blue. But for now, the Ravens look like they’ll run the entire operation back for another go at a Super Bowl.

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John Harbaugh defends Lamar Jackson's playoff performance

John Harbaugh defends Lamar Jackson's playoff performance

Coach John Harbaugh, just six days after his team’s disappointing 28-12 loss to the Titans in the AFC playoffs, has already had to defend his quarterback.

Faced with some criticism after Jackson finished 31-of-59 passing, and three total turnovers, Harbaugh mentioned how far Jackson has come in the last year — which also ended in an early playoff loss at home.

“It’s really interesting to look at Lamar Jackson, because look at the progress he made in the last year,” Harbaugh said Friday. “Because the same question, I think you might have asked it last year, how is he going to get better going forward? And he did a good job, right? He’s 23 years old. He’s younger than Joe Burrow. So, he has a pretty good head start right now.”

Jackson is now 0-2 in the playoffs with a 19-3 regular season record. 



He’s likely the MVP this season after he passed for more than 3,000 yards and rushed for 1,000 yards, setting the single-season rushing record for a quarterback along the way. He led the NFL in passing touchdowns and carried the most prolific offense in the league to a league-best 14-2. 

Harbaugh isn’t worried that his quarterback, who is just 23-years-old, hasn’t found his playoff success yet.

“The Manning brothers combined to, they had five losses in their first five playoff games before they won one,” Harbaugh explained. (Joe) Montana, (Steve) Young and (Brett) Favre didn’t start a playoff game until their third season, (Drew) Brees and (Troy) Aikman, until their fourth season, and (Aaron) Rodgers until his fifth season.”

After the season ended, Harbaugh added that Jackson went to his office to discuss the offseason and what he needed to do to improve. 

While Harbaugh and the offensive coaching staff had a plan for Jackson to improve, Jackson “nailed” each and every single critique that the coaches had laid out for him.

“I’m really confident in Lamar and his understanding the things he needs to do to get better, and that he’s going to work really hard to keep building himself up as a player,” Harbaugh said.

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