Ravens hope to learn from ‘painful’ lesson given by Chiefs
The Baltimore Ravens had their flaws exposed in a loss to Kansas City that had a familiar feel.
“It looked like the same thing from the Tennessee game, to be honest,” Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said Monday night after the 34-20 defeat.
The 2019 NFL MVP was referring to last January’s playoff game against the Titans — Baltimore’s only loss in the span of a year before the Chiefs came to town.
The Ravens (2-1) still expect to be contenders in 2020, but for that to happen they must correct the shortcomings displayed against Kansas City. Baltimore allowed 517 yards, didn’t get a sack or an interception, fell behind early and again showed an inability to come from behind with a run-oriented attack led by Jackson.
“We’ll look at the things we need to do to get better, mistakes that we made, things that we can call differently or scheme differently,” coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. “When you play a team that good, they show things that you can improve on. We had a chance to see that first-hand in a very painful way.”
Since Lamar Jackson was drafted in 2018, the Ravens are 0-10 when trailing at halftime — the only NFL team during that span without a win in that situation. Jackson was the starter in half those games, including Monday night and that dreadful 28-12 loss to Tennessee.
As they did against the Titans, the Ravens abandoned their running game early against the Chiefs while shifting into catch-up mode. Baltimore ended up with only 21 rushing attempts and Jackson threw 28 times for just 97 yards with four sacks and an interception.
Baltimore cut a 27-10 halftime deficit to 27-20 before Patrick Mahomes launched a 13-play drive for the clinching touchdown. The Ravens don’t often have to play from behind, but when a rally is required they’ve had a tough time getting it done.
“We got it back to seven in the fourth, but unfortunately we weren’t able to get (the Chiefs) off the field,” running back Mark Ingram said. “It doesn’t feel weird when we’re down. We just continue to believe that we’ll be able to come back and get a win.”
There are two ways to go after a disheartening loss, and the Ravens except to bounce back Sunday against Washington rather than to let the misery linger.
“We hate the outcome of the game, but there’s a lot of football left this season and we can’t dwell on it,” Jackson said.
“We don’t hold our heads down. We hold our heads high because we know what we’re capable of doing if we play Ravens football,” he said. “We confront the things that need to be improved on, we confront the things that need to be corrected and then we try and correct our mistakes and grow from it.”
One of the items on the to-do list is enhance the pass rush. Mahomes kept his jersey clean, and linebacker Matthew Judon is still looking for his first sack after leading the team with 9 1/2 last year.
“We’ve got to get back to basics, working on tackling, working on grabbing,” tackle Brandon Williams said. “They had our number Monday, but it’s still early in the season. One game is not going to change who we are or what we do. We’re still going to come after people and play our game.”
This is not unusual territory for the Ravens, who started 2-2 in 2019 — including a loss to Kansas City — before peeling off 12 straight wins to close out the regular season.
“Look what happened last year,” Williams said.
The Ravens finished with the best record in the NFL last season behind Jackson, a successful running game and a swarming defense. That formula has not changed.
Harbaugh acknowledged that Baltimore switched to passing mode early against the Chiefs, but maintained that the team’s run-first identity is unchanged.
“We’re not going to get away from being a running team,. That’s something we think is very important,” he said. “We’ll try to do our best to call as many runs as we can every single week.”
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