The Baltimore Ravens, with a regular-season record as the best in the NFL, faced a disappointing setback in their quest for a Super Bowl appearance. A 17-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game left the team reflecting on what went wrong after a season of highs and anticipation.
High Hopes Dashed in AFC Championship
Despite entering the AFC Championship with high expectations and hosting the game for the first time in franchise history, the Ravens couldn’t secure the victory needed to advance to the Super Bowl. Quarterback Lamar Jackson, who played at an MVP level during the regular season, struggled to make the impactful plays that characterized his earlier performances.
Lamar Jackson’s Frustration and Team’s Disappointment
Following the loss, Lamar Jackson expressed his frustration, emphasizing the team’s collective disappointment. Jackson acknowledged falling short of their Super Bowl aspirations and recognized the offense’s failure to produce more than one touchdown in the game.
“We mad. We were one win away from the Super Bowl, what I’ve been talking about all season, my team has been talking about all season,” said Jackson. “We fell short. The offense, we didn’t put anything on the board. That’s not like us. I’m not frustrated, I’m angry because I know how hard we worked to get here.”
Jackson’s Performance and Playoff Struggles
While Jackson’s regular-season performances garnered him MVP consideration, his playoff struggles continued in the AFC Championship Game. Completing 20 of 37 passes for 272 yards, Jackson failed to make significant plays beyond a couple of connections with rookie Zay Flowers. Sacked four times, losing a fumble, and throwing an interception, Jackson faced challenges against the Chiefs’ defense.
“You can’t turn the ball over. It’s tough like that,” Jackson admitted. “Defense did a wonderful job, held a great offense to 17 points. We got only one touchdown. That’s not like us. No excuses.”
Ravens’ Penalties and Missed Opportunities
The Ravens faced additional challenges with penalties, committing eight infractions for 95 yards, including taunting, roughing the passer, and unnecessary roughness. The team struggled to capitalize on key opportunities, with Flowers receiving a taunting penalty after a 54-yard reception and subsequently losing a fumble at the goal line.
“We all make mistakes. It’s his first season. It’s my first time in this situation, it’s his first time in this situation. We’re going to bounce back. Nobody plays the game perfect,” Jackson emphasized.
Chiefs’ Experience Prevails
In contrast, the Kansas City Chiefs, making their sixth consecutive appearance in the AFC title game, showcased their experience. The Chiefs’ disciplined performance included only three penalties, no turnovers, and effective third-down conversions. Their ability to control the ball and capitalize on Ravens’ mistakes contributed to their victory.
Reflections on the Season and Looking Forward
For the Ravens, the loss marked the end of a season filled with roster changes, offensive reconfigurations, and a strong finish after a 3-2 start. Lamar Jackson reflected on the team’s resilience throughout the season, facing adversity and exceeding expectations.
“How hard we fought. We were facing adversity all season. Nobody thought we were going to be in this position. New system, new guys, whole new team. People didn’t think we were going to be in this position but we were. Next time, we’ve just got to finish, man,” Jackson stated.
As the Ravens enter the offseason, they will assess what went wrong in the AFC Championship and strategize for future success, aiming to learn from the disappointments and build on the positives of the season.