314 days ago, the Ravens were the best team in football led by an eventual MVP quarterback, the league’s best-ever rushing attack and a defense that gave its record-breaking offense the football time and time again with its playmaking secondary.
Just one day later, it all came crashing down — hard.
The Ravens lost to the Titans 28-12 in the AFC Divisional Round on Jan. 11, as their 12-game winning streak came to a crashing halt in one of the more shocking results of the playoffs.
A team with Super Bowl aspirations suddenly had to grapple with the fact that, in the biggest game of their season, they played worse than they had in months. Sunday, they’ll face the team that ended their Super Bowl dreams once again.
But at least publicly, the Ravens say they don’t have last year’s loss at the front of their minds.
“It’s not a revenge game,” quarterback Lamar Jackson said. “The game is over with, it was last year, we just fell short. Can’t do anything about it, just going into this game trying to go 7-3. We ain’t looking into it like a revenge game.”
Jackson was left without a ton of help that night in January, as a hobbled Mark Ingram wasn’t able to do very much in the run game. As Tennessee controlled the line of scrimmage, Jackson was forced to make plays on his own. Instead, his receivers dropped pass after pass as the clock ticked away.
Now, the Ravens have a whole host of issues, and none of them can be solved by looking backward at their 16-point loss 10 months ago.
The team is critically injured at significant positions on the roster and needs to prepare for one of, if not the most physical challenge they’ll face all year against Titans running back Derrick Henry.
“I have very high respect for the Titans,” rookie defensive lineman Justin Madubuike said. “We obviously know what 22 can do. It all comes down to us playing as a brotherhood, as a unit, and stopping that run and keeping them one-dimensional.”
Since that game at M&T Bank Stadium, a lot has changed for both organizations. And yet, a lot stays the same.
The Titans fell short in the AFC Championship Game a week after their upset win, but still felt good about their playoff run. Since then, they jumped out to a 5-0 start in 2020 but have since struggled in the last five games.
But quarterback Ryan Tannehill has become a legitimate starter the Titans can rely upon. And they’ve still got Henry in the backfield.
The Ravens started the regular season 5-1 but have lost two of their last three games and are battered across the defensive and offensive side of the ball. But they’ve still got Jackson’s incredible playmaking ability, and two of the top cornerbacks in the league who can force turnovers like no other in the league.
“At this point in time, it’s Week 10 I think?” safety DeShon Elliott asked. “What happened last year, happened last year. This is a different team. They’re a different team with the same running back so we know what they’re going to do. We just gotta go out there and do our job and try to prevent it.”
So while it may seem easy to think the players have last year’s loss in mind, that’s not on their radar.
“Last year got nothing to do with this year,” Elliott continued. “Right now, it’s another week, it’s the next team who’s in front of us. We need to get this win and get past them. It is what it is. I’m not worried about what happened last year.”