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The Ravens, for the first time in weeks, were forced to win ugly in last-second victory

The Ravens, for the first time in weeks, were forced to win ugly in last-second victory

BALTIMORE — The Ravens found themselves in unfamiliar territory on Sunday — deadlocked in a game with second half implications that mattered to the result.

For the first time in weeks, the Ravens needed to play Lamar Jackson and the rest of the starters until the final whistle in one of the team’s most dramatic wins of the season. 

After a string of dominant wins since the bye week at the end of October, the Ravens played their first one-possession game since a home game against the Bengals on Oct. 13. 

Baltimore didn’t need a blowout win for its eighth-straight, though, as it beat San Francisco 20-17 on a last-second field goal from Justin Tucker at M&T Bank Stadium.

“These games are needed,” Michael Pierce said. “When you’re trying to go on a run and get to the playoffs, you never expect a blowout, and you need to be in those tight games to see how players respond at some point. Today was pivotal, and I think a lot of guys proved that we can step up when the time calls for it.”

And for the first time in weeks, the Ravens weren’t in control of the game from the start. 

The run defense allowed Raheem Mostert to run wild, as he finished with 174 yards on 19 carries — a 7.7-yard average. The 49ers rushed for 174 yards as a team. 

“They have a good running attack, you can see that today,” Domata Peko Sr. said. “They didn’t try to run too much up the middle, because they know we’ve got some big dudes in the middle. I feel like they got us in the first half with the edges, but I feel like in the second half, we made some adjustments and were able to shut it down for the most part.”

Jimmy Garoppolo finished 15-of-21 for 165 yards passing with a touchdown, and moved the ball well enough to keep the Ravens’ defense on its heels. 

A Garoppolo sack-fumble in the first quarter gave the Ravens a short field and later a touchdown, and a blocked 51-yard field goal from Robbie Gould prevented more 49er points. 

In short, the 49ers gifted, and left points on the field.

“This definitely makes us look at ourselves,” Brandon Williams said. “We have some things to work on and keep getting better. We can learn from this game and keep moving.”

The Ravens struggled offensively, too, as they managed just three second half points — Tucker’s last-second field goal. 

“This is the NFL, so each and every game, you’re going to go in prepared, ready for a dogfight,” Lamar Jackson said. “This one here, it was a dogfight that came down to fourth down (and a) field goal. We were ready, but at the same time, you’ve got to get ready each and every game because you don’t know what (will) happen.” 

Jackson didn’t post stellar numbers for the first time in weeks, as he finished with just 105 yards passing and 101 yards on the ground. His passing total was the lowest of the season.

He also committed his first turnover since Oct. 6 in Pittsburgh with a fumble deep in San Francisco territory. 

“I wanted to get back on the field as fast as possible,” Jackson said of his fumble. “Our defense did a great job of holding them, helping me out, helping our offensive guys out, myself more. But it was my fault, so I’m hot about that right now. If I keep the ball in my hand, you know, we’re going to score.”

San Francisco’s defense, one of the best units in the NFL, held Jackson and the normally potent Ravens offense at-bay for a majority of the game. 

Baltimore had just 283 total yards, its second-lowest total of the season. It also managed just 178 yards on the ground, the fourth-lowest of the year. 

“We don’t really know how other teams are going to game plan us,” Marshal Yanda said. “Everybody has a little bit of a different idea on how to stop us. That was definitely what they wanted to do. Give them credit, they played us tough. It was a tight possession ball game. We’re excited to get that win.”

The 49ers were aggressive in all facets on defense, routinely having defensive ends crash hard on Raven running backs and forcing Jackson to keep the ball. 

While Jackson rushed for 101 yards, which moved him 63-yards away from breaking Michael Vick’s all-time rushing record in a season for a quarterback, Jackson’s gains seemed to be by-design. 

“That’s just their scheme, that’s what they do, they’ve shown that on film,” Orlando Brown Jr. said. “The quarterback-driven stuff, they’ve always sent the defensive end at the running back. We expected that, every NFL team that plays them expects that.”

But despite all the miscues and adversity, the Ravens found a way to win despite being out-gained since Oct. 20 in Seattle. Jackson was out-dueled in the passing game by Garoppolo and the turnovers broke even. 

“It hasn’t been easy,” Mark Andrews said. “There’s been a lot of tough spots. You see this game, it was a dogfight. There was multiple times it could’ve gone either way for both teams. Just being able to fight through that adversity and continue to play efficient football on all sides of the football, it was awesome to see.”

While the Ravens escaped with a three-point win against an injured 49ers team, there’s still the looming possibility of a Super Bowl rematch, no matter how far away that might seem. 

And should it come to something like that, the Ravens know these types of games are beneficial in the long run. 

“Obviously, you have to win the close ones,” Yanda said. “At the end of the year, when you play really good teams like that, you are not going to blow out a team like that. That’s part of it. You have to protect the football, score points when you can and play as a team.”

Through the Ravens’ last five games entering Sunday, they’d out-scored opponents 202-62. While those victories had come against four teams with winning records, that’s almost assuredly not going to be the case as the season winds down. 

But the Ravens, now 10-2 and firmly in the driver’s seat for a first round bye, have proven they can win games that end up on highlight reels or last-possession games in the cold rain. 

Winners of eight-straight, the Ravens just proved they don’t always have to win pretty. 

“We’ve been killing people by 20-points, 30-points, putting up 40 every game,” Peko said. “It’s not going to be like that the whole time. This was a good test for us where it’s a swing here, a swing there, but we got the last punch in and knocked them out.”

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Lamar Jackson shows off accuracy by hitting a crossbar from 50 yards away

Lamar Jackson shows off accuracy by hitting a crossbar from 50 yards away

Lamar Jackson isn't letting the end of the Ravens' season impact his ability to wow us on the football field. 

Ahead of the Pro Bowl Skills Challenge set for Thursday night, Jackson showed off incredible arm talent by hitting the crossbar from 50 yards away. 

Not bad for a running back. 

This season didn't go as planned for the Raves. They won 12 straight games to finish the regular season 14-2 and Jackson had an MVP season. Everything pointed to at least a trip to the AFC title game until the Titans came into Baltimore and pulled off a shocking upset in the Divisional Round. 

Jackson later explained how he didn't leave his room after the loss, and who can blame him? He's now 0-2 in the playoffs and their latest failure came against a team that had to switch quarterbacks midseason. 

The future is still bright in Baltimore, and while the sting of the playoffs may still be there for Ravens fans, they can still watch their quarterback dazzle in the Skills Challenge and the actual Pro Bowl game on Sunday. 

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‘Depressed’ Lamar Jackson didn’t leave his room after Ravens’ playoff loss

‘Depressed’ Lamar Jackson didn’t leave his room after Ravens’ playoff loss

It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

The Ravens had the No. 1 seed in the AFC locked up. Their quarterback was the presumptive MVP and they boasted a 12-game winning streak that was the longest in the NFL. It wasn’t a question of whether they’d beat the Titans in the divisional round, but how deep into the playoffs they could go.

Except that’s not what happened. The Titans stunned the Ravens on their home turf and won handily by the score of 28-12. After throwing just one interception over his previous 10 games, Lamar Jackson through two passes that ended up in the hands of Tennessee.

“I didn’t leave my room, to be honest,” Jackson told The Athletic during the Pro Bowl festivities in Miami. “I wasn’t frustrated. I was hurt. I was depressed. It was like, ‘I don’t even want to go outside right now. I’m not happy right now.’ There was nothing to celebrate.”

The loss marked the second-straight season in which Baltimore stumbled in its first playoff game. But this wasn’t the Ravens team of yesteryear. The 2018 Ravens went 10-6 with Jackson’s future at the quarterback position still being questioned by pundits. The 2019 Ravens went 14-2 while Jackson looked like one of the best athletes in the sport.

“I need to get better myself,” Jackson added. “I don’t put nothing on my teammates. We all just have to do our part. My job was to help my team, get my team in the red zone and score points. I didn’t do my job. We just got to move on. All season we were doing that. We’d drive down into the red zone and we’d put up points. For that game, we didn’t. We can’t put that on the defense. [Tennessee] only scored like 28 points. We should score more points than that.”

Surrounded by the fanfare that is Pro Bowl week, Jackson is all smiles as he hangs out in warm weather among some of the league’s biggest stars. But the young quarterback will have a lot to prove in 2020, as he’ll look to show that this Ravens was team was no fluke. And that he can lead Baltimore over the hump once the playoffs begin.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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