For 20 years, the Patriots were the team to fear in the AFC. After a stunning loss to the Titans in the wild card round of the playoffs, the Patriots were no longer a threat and that left the door wide open for Lamar Jackson and the Ravens to swoop right in and take control.
Until they too met the Titans.
Earl Thomas had talked a bit of trash before the game saying, "If Tannehill try to pass on us, I don't think that'll go in their favor so we know they're going to try to run the ball. We just gotta stop the run and play sound on the back end and that'll take care of the play-action pass." Well easier said than done.
While Ryan Tannehill did go 7-14 for 88 yards, he did throw for two touchdowns, including one right after a blocked punt that put the Titans up 14-0.
As for stopping Derrick Henry, well the Ravens did not. They did keep Henry out of the end zone but they could not stop him from racking up 195 yards on 30 carries. He owned that Ravens defense.
As for Lamar Jackson, he put up a bunch of numbers yet the only number that matters is three. Three is the number of turnovers the Ravens had and all were committed by Jackson. He had two interceptions and a lost fumble. Another number to pay attention to is two. Two is the number of times Jackson was stuffed on 4th and 1 plays after going a perfect 8-8 during the regular season.
The Ravens got done two scores quickly and they were not able to stick to their game-plan. The Ravens are not a team built to come from behind despite the big play abilities on offense. Jackson threw the ball 59 times and ran it another 20 to put up over 500 yards of total offense but none of that matters.
This was perhaps the easiest path to the Super Bowl for the Ravens as there was no Big Ben, no Brady, no Manning, no Luck.
This is only Jackson's second year and he's only 23 and I'm not saying the Ravens don't have a chance to make it back but it's only going to get more difficult.
As Jackson likes to wear on his T-shirt, "Nobody Cares Work Harder" and that's exactly what he's going to do.