Festivus: It’s a Familiar Feeling
Yes Ravens fans, Festivus is upon us, but don’t bother asking the Ravens’ players or coaches about the big picture.
Sure, they’ve beaten three playoff-bound teams — the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots and Houston Texans — by double-digits.
Yes, the Ravens own the NFL’s longest active winning streak at six games, which is also their longest stretch of victories since 2000 — the year of the franchise’s first Super Bowl.
And, Baltimore is 8-2 and now has a three-game lead in the AFC North. The Ravens still have a shot at the No. 1 seed in the playoffs if the New England Patriots somehow falter down the stretch with their easy schedule.
The Ravens remain focused on just one aspect of their season: their upcoming Monday night game on the road against the Los Angeles Rams.
“Well, we work really hard,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “You have a bunch of guys that keep it simple and keep it about football,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve had steady improvement. To me, we’ve steadily improved. We improve a little bit every day, because these guys come out there with that mindset.
“They want to improve a little bit every day, and we have to keep that focus. As the stakes get bigger, your focus has to be narrower. We have to keep it nice and tight, and keep it locked in on what we have to get done one day at a time.”
The Ravens’ high-flying offense has been putting up huge numbers all season. The team leads the NFL with 34.1 points and rushing yards (203.8) per game.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson has completely silenced his critics with an MVP-caliber season. He has thrown for 2,258 yards with 19 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Jackson has also run for a team-leading 788 yards with six scores.
Over the past two games, Jackson had a couple of high-light reel runs where he left a wake of defenders.
You just can't defend it. https://t.co/cX8wJUQn8s
— Todd Karpovich (@toddkarpovich) November 17, 2019
After completing just one of just his first six passes in Week 11 against Houston, Jackson had 13-consecutive completions, throwing for three touchdowns over that span. Jackson finished the game with four touchdown passes overall, becoming the only QB in Ravens single-season history with at least four TD passes in multiple games. He also had five in the regular-season-opener against Miami.
His sole focus is winning a Super Bowl.
“It’s a brotherhood here in Baltimore,” Jackson said. “We see each other every day. We’re with each other each and every day. We’re with each other [in] OTAs, camp, and we’ve just got to build. We see that everyone wants the same thing. We’re chasing something right now, and we’re trying to get it.”
Now, the Ravens defense is keeping opposing coaches awake at night.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 17, 2019
There was much concern surrounding this unit after allowing more than 500 yards in consecutive losses to Kansas City and Cleveland. The secondary was decimated with injuries and the players looked confused with their assignments.
However, defensive coordinator Don Martindale made all of the necessary adjustments. The Ravens acquired cornerback Marcus Peters from the Rams and he already has returned a pair of interceptions for touchdowns. Fellow cornerback Jimmy Smith got back on the field from a knee injury and the secondary is an area of strength once again.
The balance on both sides of the ball makes the Ravens a legitimate Super Bowl contender, not that the players or coaches are looking that far ahead.
“Y’all write. Y’all write. Y’all report,” linebacker Matthew Judon said. “Y’all do whatever you have to do. We’re just going to play football. We’re going to continue to come out here and try to stop opposing offenses. Doesn’t matter if they’re 8-0, 0-8, the leader of the AFC, the leader of the NFC; we’re going to try to stop opposing offenses, and that’s our job.”
Nonetheless, “Festivus” is upon us one again.