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Playoff winners expose Ravens shortcomings

Playoff winners expose Ravens shortcomings

And then there were four.

Four teams remain in the hunt for Super Bowl LI, and this weekend's games showed exactly what it takes to survive and advance this time of year. They also illustrated, quite clearly, how the current Ravens simply don't rise up to that level.

Here are two ways in particular:

* Strong quarterback play

Aaron Rodgers needed less than a minute to move his team into position for a game-winning field goal against Dallas.

Then again, the Cowboys' Dak Prescott needed less than a minute to move his team into position to tie the game moments earlier.

Did the Ravens offense under Joe Flacco this year ever appear capable of pulling off such a feat?

Atlanta's Matt Ryan threw three touchdowns without an interception as the Falcons rolled past Seattle. He averaged 9.1 yards per pass play, above their league-best regular-season average of 8.8. That's what an efficient, potent passing game looks like. The Ravens ranked 26th this year, averaging 6.04 yards per pass play.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft 1.0

* Playmakers

When Dallas got inside the Packers' 10-yard line in the final four minutes, trailing 28-20, was there any doubt that the ball was going to Dez Bryant? The Packers had to know it. They just couldn't stop it. Bryant reached up with his 6-2, 220-pound frame and hauled in the inside slant that made it 28-26, and then Prescott scored on a quarterback draw for a two-point conversion to tie the game.

Did the Ravens this year ever have such a proven, go-to target near the goal line? If they did, they probably wouldn't have ranked 20th in red zone percentage this year and relied so heavily on kicker Justin Tucker. Too many field goals instead of touchdowns doomed this team.

Aaron Rodgers had to improvise, then made a great throw with an even better catch by Jared Cook to set up the winning field goal. Could the Ravens have pulled off that play this year?

When the Steelers were trying to close out their win over the Chiefs, they opted to throw a pass, knowing an incompletion would stop the clock and possibly give the ball back to the Chiefs. It carried some risk, but Ben Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown for a game-clinching first down.

The Steelers could have opted to run the ball with Le'Veon Bell, who piled up 170 yards on 30 carries. That's what a commitment to the run looks like.

Brown, Bryant and Julian Edelman all finished with more than 100 receiving yards.

Each of these teams has playmakers, and they all stepped up.

MORE RAVENS: Ray Lewis tells Tom Brady to quit complaining

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Ravens hoping to re-sign Robert Griffin III, per report

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Ravens hoping to re-sign Robert Griffin III, per report

Here's your Tuesday roundup of the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

Player's Notes: 

The Ravens are hoping to re-sign backup quarterback Robert Griffin III, Jeff Zrebiec of TheAthletic.com reports. Playing 2018 on a one-year, $1 million deal, Griffin III appeared in three games, completing 2-of-6 passes for 21 yards. Retaining RGIII would make a ton of sense for the Ravens. Lamar Jackson is their only signed QB at the moment.

Thinking about Jackson handing the ball off to running back Mark Ingram in 2019 certainly has fans excited, and for the Ravens' newest acquisition, he's got plans for the dynamic duo to change the game.

Ronnie Stanley is predicting a bright future for his QB. While speaking on NFL Network's Good Morning Football, the tackle had high regards for how Jackson handled himself his rookie season. 

Safety Tony Jefferson got candid about the Ravens' offseason moves while on NFL Total Access. He admitted that it "hurt a little bit" to see veteran teammates like Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley exit in free agency, but is excited to have a future Hall of Famer in Earl Thomas on his side. .

In AFC North news, the Bengals cut linebacker Vontaze Burfict after seven seasons. The former Pro Bowler played seven games in 2018, totaling 33 combined tackles and 17 assist. 

Looking Ahead: 

March 24-27: Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, Az.

April 15: Voluntary OTA's may begin

April 19: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets

MORE RAVENS NEWS: 

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Former Ravens great Haloti Ngata retires on top of the world... literally

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AP Images

Former Ravens great Haloti Ngata retires on top of the world... literally

Defensive lineman Haloti Ngata is one of the greatest Ravens in the franchise’s short history. He made five Pro Bowls in nine years in Baltimore after being selected 12th overall in the 2006 draft, helped lead the team to its second Super Bowl victory in 2013, and was regularly considered one of the best defensive players in the sport.

And yet, his most impressive feat might be his retirement announcement.

Ngata announced this week on Instagram that he was retiring from the NFL after 13 seasons, but it wasn’t your standard retirement. 

The hulking lineman hiked to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro to post a picture with a customized banner announcing his playing career is over. The banner mentions going out from the NFL “on top,” a fitting phrase for a man standing at Africa’s highest point.

19,341 feet above sea level. For reference, that’s nearly 121 full-length football fields.

Ngata was always a man who embraced challenges, and climbing the world’s tallest free standing mountain certainly qualifies. He has an argument as a top-five player in team history, and now has an argument for top five retirement in league history as well.

The bar has now been set really, really high for future retirement announcements around sports. It’ll be tough to top this one, either in creativity or in literal height.

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