Jackson: 'I'm not frustrated, I'm angry'
BALTIMORE (AP) — With a trip to the Super Bowl just one victory away, the Baltimore Ravens looked nothing like the team that finished the regular season with the best record in the NFL before thrashing Houston in their playoff opener.
Worse, Lamar Jackson bore little resemblance to the quarterback who deftly maneuvered through the season playing like a consensus MVP.
“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,” Jackson said after Sunday's 17-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. “We fell short. The offense, we didn’t put nothing on the board. We scored once. That’s not like us. I’m not frustrated, I’m angry because I know how hard we worked to get here.”
Hosting the AFC championship game for the first time in their history, the top-seeded Ravens (14-5) committed too many penalties, gave the ball away three times and received an uneven performance from Jackson against the defending Super Bowl champions.
Jackson went 20 for 37 for 272 yards, but made few big plays beyond two throws to rookie Zay Flowers for 30 and 54 yards. He was sacked four times, lost a fumble and threw an interception.
“You can’t turn the ball over. It’s tough like that,” Jackson said. “Defense did a wonderful job, held a great offense to 17 points. We got only one touchdown. That’s not like us. No excuses.”
Jackson's career record in the postseason fell to 2-4. While he muffled some of the talk about his shortcomings in the playoffs during a 34-10 rout of Houston, the multifaceted star remains in search of his first Super Bowl appearance.
“I told him to stand up tall,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s had a great season. His performance today was all heart and he fought. He gave everything he had, so it’s nothing I would be disappointed with.”
Jackson wasn't the only Baltimore player to underperform in front of a rain-soaked sellout crowd that never saw the Ravens hold the lead. Flowers had five catches for 115 yards and his team's lone touchdown, but he also received an inexcusable taunting penalty after that 54-yarder late in the third quarter. Four plays after that, Flowers lost a fumble at the goal line to end the series with Baltimore down 17-7.
“We all make mistakes,” Jackson said. “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.”
The Ravens were far from it. They were flagged eight times for 95 yards for such violations as roughing the passer, unnecessary roughness, 12 men on the field and, as noted earlier, taunting.
“It’s never about the other side. It’s about us,” Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith said.
Perhaps, but the Chiefs played like they'd been in this situation before. Which they had, this being their sixth consecutive appearance in the AFC title game. After using that experience to beat Miami and eliminate Buffalo on the road, Kansas City played solidly if unspectacularly in dispatching the Ravens.
The Chiefs were penalized only three times, didn't turn the ball over and held the ball for 15 more minutes than Baltimore. Kansas City converted eight of 18 third-down tries to extend drives and keep the ball from the Ravens.
“It’s definitely very frustrating, having them in a position you want them in and being unable to capitalize on that as a defense,” said Smith, who was credited with 16 tackles. “Hats off to those guys for being able to get the job done.”
And so, instead of heading to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl on Feb. 11, the Ravens will clean out their lockers while considering what went wrong and how to fix it.
The loss took the edge off a season in which the Ravens experienced a notable roster shuffle, reworked the offense under first-year coordinator Todd Monken and streaked to the finish after a 3-2 start.
Asked what he'll remember about this team, Jackson said, “How hard we fought. We were facing adversity all season. Nobody thought we was going to be in this position. New system, new guys, whole new team. People didn’t think we was going to be in this position but we was. Next time, we’ve just got to finish, man.”
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