Tag Archive | "M&T Bank Stadium"

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Ravens regular-season moment No. 6: “Would it be us if we didn’t end it that way?”

Posted on 18 June 2020 by Luke Jones

Check out the No. 7 regular-season moment in Ravens history HERE.

The Ravens defense was determined not to let it happen again.

On Christmas Day in 2016, a last-second touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown had given Pittsburgh a 31-27 win that eliminated Baltimore from postseason contention in Week 16.

On New Year’s Eve the following year, Andy Dalton’s 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd on fourth-and-12 had stunned the Ravens, who entered the season finale with a projected 97-percent chance of making the playoffs. The heartbreaking collapse resulted in the Ravens missing the postseason for the third straight year, the first time that had happened since their first four years in Baltimore.

A defense that had been among the NFL’s best statistically the previous two years had come up small at the most critical times, but the 2018 Ravens were riding momentum entering Week 17 after winning five of six games since the bye week to take the AFC North lead. Rookie Lamar Jackson taking over for the injured Joe Flacco at quarterback had provided the spark for a team in transition, but the league’s top-ranked defense had played at a championship level down the stretch, most recently holding the explosive Los Angeles Chargers to 10 points in one of the Ravens’ biggest road victories in years.

All that was needed for John Harbaugh’s team to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014 was a win over Cleveland, who had played well down the stretch with rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield at the helm. After what had happened against the Bengals at home the previous year, no one in Baltimore had any reason to be overlooking the Browns, who had also won five of their last six games.

That warning appeared overblown early as the run-heavy Ravens jumped to a 20-7 lead and were on the verge of blowing the game wide open late in the first half. However, on third-and-goal from the Cleveland 1, Jackson tried to hurdle the pile and extend the ball toward the goal line, but it was knocked loose before breaking the plane and recovered by Cleveland.

The game was much different in the second half as the Browns held the Ravens to just two field goals while Mayfield rebounded from a poor first half to throw two touchdown passes. His short scoring throw to Antonio Callaway cut the Baltimore lead to 26-24 with 3:24 remaining. And when the Ravens offense answered with a three-and-out, the gut-wrenching memories of the previous two years consumed a sold-out M&T Bank Stadium crowd.

The feeling of dread grew as completions of 19 and 16 yards — each confirmed by replay reviews — gave the Browns a first-and-10 at the Baltimore 39 with 1:20 remaining. Kicker Greg Joseph had missed a 46-yard attempt in the same direction to conclude the first half, so Cleveland needed more yardage and likely another first down to feel confident about giving him another try.

It couldn’t possibly happen again, could it?

Unlike those previous times, first-year defensive coordinator Wink Martindale was now in charge. Predecessor Dean Pees was often criticized for being passive in such late-game situations, but Martindale was influenced by the late Buddy Ryan and embraced a more aggressive approach with his defense.

On first down, Martindale blitzed Mayfield, whose sideline throw to tight end David Njoku was broken up by dime back Anthony Levine. The Ravens rushed six on second down, forcing another Mayfield incompletion. With Baltimore blitzing yet again on third-and-10, Levine broke up another pass intended for Njoku.

The stage was set for fourth down with a division title and a chance to avenge the previous two years on the line for the Ravens.

With Martindale deploying his fourth straight Cover-0 blitz, Mayfield was hurried by an unblocked Matthew Judon and threw over the middle toward running back Duke Johnson. Delaying his drop into pass coverage to deceive the Cleveland quarterback, Pro Bowl inside linebacker C.J. Mosley leaped, batted the ball in the air, and secured the interception.

Mosley and his defensive teammates sprinted the length of the field in celebration.

There would be no “Immaculate Extension” or “Fourth-and-12” this time around as the Ravens were AFC North champions for the first time since 2012 and back in the playoffs. Making the moment even sweeter was that it eliminated Pittsburgh as Steelers players were watching the end of the Baltimore-Cleveland game on the Heinz Field video board after their win over Cincinnati.

A Ravens defense that had folded under the pressure of previous big moments had finally broken through.

“Would it be us if we didn’t end it that way?” Judon said in the celebratory locker room. “Last year, the fourth-and-12, that’s all we see and that’s all we remember. And then we come down [before] fourth-and-10, Levine made two hell of a plays on man coverage, tight coverage. And then that fourth down, C.J., you can’t say enough about that guy.”

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Ravens regular-season moment No. 7: “Something that you dream of”

Posted on 16 June 2020 by Luke Jones

Check out the No. 8 regular-season moment in Ravens history HERE.

The 2003 season was turning into a nightmare for the Ravens, who had fallen to 5-5 after two straight road losses to St. Louis and Miami.

Despite a top-shelf defense and a historic campaign from running back Jamal Lewis, Brian Billick’s team was struggling mightily on offense and down to third-string quarterback Anthony Wright. In his first start for Baltimore the previous week, the 27-year-old had committed three turnovers in a 9-6 overtime loss to the Dolphins, looking the part of a former undrafted quarterback making only his sixth career start.

Returning home to play Seattle in Week 12, the Ravens needed a win to stop the bleeding and to keep pace with surprising Cincinnati for first place in the AFC North. What was to come would be one of the most exciting games in the history of M&T Bank Stadium.

No one knew it early, however, as the teams combined for just six points in the first 29 minutes of play before a pair of touchdown passes by Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in the final 30 seconds of the half — a disastrous fumble had given the ball back to Seattle after the first one — gave Seattle a 17-3 lead at intermission. Wright’s second start was looking much like the previous week as he went just 3-for-9 for 37 yards.

Something had to give.

The difference would be Wright’s former college teammate at South Carolina, Marcus Robinson, who had been a non-factor in his first season with the Ravens. Once a 1,400-yard receiver with Chicago, Robinson had caught only nine passes for 76 yards in his first nine games of 2003, showing little chemistry with rookie quarterback Kyle Boller.

Wright and Robinson connected for a 13-yard score to open the second half, the first touchdown scored by the Ravens in two weeks. The pair hooked up for two more touchdowns — 50-yard and 25-yard strikes — in the third quarter, but the problem was the vaunted Ravens defense that suddenly couldn’t stop the Seahawks. Hasselbeck threw three more touchdowns in the second half to give Seattle a 41-24 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Wright’s mojo temporarily stalled as the Ravens punted on back-to-back possessions, but the second resulted in a muff recovered by Baltimore at the Seattle 35. With the Ravens having a chance to shrink the deficit to two scores with a little over nine minutes to play, Lewis instead coughed up the ball on first down, giving possession right back to the Seahawks.

A comeback just wasn’t in the cards as a sizable portion of the home crowd began heading for the exits, resigned to a third straight loss going into Thanksgiving.

Or so we thought.

A bloodied Baltimore defense forced a three-and-out to set up a punt. Already showing a Hall-of-Fame ability to block punts in only his second season, safety Ed Reed used a beautiful inside swim move to block Tom Rouen’s kick, picked up the ball, and scored to make it a 41-31 game with 6:41 remaining. It was a remarkable play by Reed, but the touchdown felt too little, too late for those still watching.

On the next possession, Seattle picked up three first downs to move into field-goal range and continue draining clock before Pro Bowl inside linebacker and 2003 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Ray Lewis stripped Seahawks fullback Mack Strong of the football. Lewis recovered at his own 29 to give possession back to the Ravens with 4:16 to go, leaving a glimmer of hope for remaining fans.

Needing a miracle conversion of a fourth-and-28 coming out of the two-minute warning, Wright chucked a deep ball to Robinson that deflected off his hands and into the arms of fellow wide receiver Frank Sanders, giving Baltimore a first down at the 21.

Four plays later, Wright and Robinson found the end zone for a fourth time in the second half, trimming the deficit to 41-38 with 1:12 to go.

It again appeared over after an unsuccessful onside kick, but the Ravens still weren’t done. An unthinkable clock snafu by the officiating crew essentially granted Baltimore an extra timeout before the defense stuffed a fourth-and-1 Hasselbeck sneak to get the ball back with 39 seconds left. Two plays later, Wright threw another deep ball to Robinson incomplete, but a 44-yard pass interference call set up a Matt Stover 40-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.

Sometimes you’d rather be lucky than good.

After the Ravens defense forced a Seattle punt on the opening series of overtime, Wright went to the magical connection a final time, completing a 19-yard pass to Robinson on third-and-15 to put his team in field-goal range. After three more Jamal Lewis rushes, Stover booted the 42-yard field goal to complete the largest comeback victory in franchise history.

The amazing 44-41 win sparked a 5-1 finish to the regular season that resulted in the first AFC North championship in team history. And though the Ravens would erase larger deficits — all with more time remaining — in the years that followed, none were as dramatic or meaningful as that season-altering win.

Going 20-for-37 for 319 yards and a 119.1 passer rating, Wright wouldn’t come close to matching his career day for the remainder of that season and his tenure with the Ravens, but his four touchdown passes to Robinson rate among the most improbable single-game efforts in the history of the franchise. It was a day the journeyman quarterback would never forget.

“This is something that you dream of,” said an emotional Wright, whose wife gave birth to their second daughter later that evening. “This is something that you write in books. This is something you think would never happen to you.

“For us to come back and win this game was unimaginable.”

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jamal295

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Ravens regular-season moment No. 8: “I guess the dude is Nostradamus”

Posted on 12 June 2020 by Luke Jones

Check out the No. 9 regular-season moment in Ravens history HERE.

Coming off a disappointing Week 1 loss at Pittsburgh, the 2003 Ravens were preparing for their home opener when Jamal Lewis chatted with Cleveland linebacker Andra Davis on the phone.

The Browns were coming off their first playoff appearance since rejoining the NFL in 1999 and looking for a mental edge as Davis told the Ravens running back he’d have a difficult time that Sunday. Having already rushed for more than 1,300 yards in each of his two healthy professional seasons — he missed all of 2001 due to a torn ACL — Lewis predicted he would set a new NFL record if he received 30 carries against Cleveland.

Cincinnati’s Corey Dillon had set the leading mark of 278 rushing yards in a game just three years earlier, but Lewis wasted no time signaling his intentions on his first rush of the day.

After losing his balance and nearly falling, Lewis exploded to the second level, stiff-armed Browns linebacker Kevin Bentley, and raced 82 yards for a touchdown, the longest run in franchise history. The physicality was nothing new, but watching the 240-pound back pull away from members of the Browns secondary was a sight to behold.

His next run went for 23 yards, giving the 2000 first-round pick from Tennessee an incredible 105 yards on two carries. With rookie quarterback Kyle Boller making only his second NFL start that day, the Ravens made clear their decision to ride Lewis against a seemingly helpless Browns defense.

A 48-yard run in the second quarter — that would have been a 60-yard touchdown if not for a holding penalty — set up a Matt Stover fielder goal to give the Ravens a 13-3 lead. Before a jubilant sellout crowd at M&T Bank Stadium, Lewis went into the halftime locker room having rushed 16 times for 180 yards, already the third-highest single-game total to that point in his career.

To their credit, the Browns appeared to find some answers in the third quarter as Lewis was held to only 15 yards on six carries and the Ravens led 16-13 going into the final period.

But Lewis began the fourth quarter just like he started the game.

The 63-yard touchdown pushed Lewis over the 250-yard rushing mark and within striking distance of Dillon’s record with nearly a full quarter to play. On the next drive, his fifth carry of 18 or more yards left him one yard shy of history.

The record-breaking run was an ordinary 3-yard gain — with Davis making the tackle — midway through the fourth quarter. The Ravens were forced to punt after failing to convert that third-and-long situation, but the home crowd erupted as the announcement came that Lewis had just set the new league record.

Carrying the ball four more times on Baltimore’s last drive, Lewis fell five yards short of 300. Still, a 295-yard rushing day on 30 attempts had more than supported his bold claim from earlier in the week.

After the Ravens’ 33-13 victory, Browns safety Earl Little lamented, “I guess the dude is Nostradamus.”

In his post-game press conference, Lewis denied that he had predicted a new NFL record, claiming he only said he’d have “a career day” if the Ravens gave him 30 carries and that the feat was “lucky.” But the 24-year-old would embarrass the Browns again in Week 16 with a 205-yard rushing performance and finished 2003 by becoming the fifth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.

“Andra said he wanted to bet that I wouldn’t get 100 yards,” said Lewis about the beginning of that record-setting game. “I don’t bet because that’s a jinx, but after I got that 80-yarder, I went up to him and asked if the bet [for] 100 was still on.

“I don’t know if he heard me.”

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Ravens regular-season moment No. 14: Five touchdowns in 125 seconds

Posted on 29 May 2020 by Luke Jones

Check out the No. 15 regular-season moment in Ravens history HERE.

Some of the best moments are more manic than meaningful.

In 2013, the Ravens were a .500 team still hoping for a wild-card spot while Minnesota was on its way to a 5-10-1 finish when they met at a snowy M&T Bank Stadium in Week 14. The wintry conditions made it nearly impossible to see from the press box early in the first half, and the teams combined for just 13 points over the first three quarters of the game on the slippery turf.

The outcome appeared bleak for Baltimore when a Matt Cassel touchdown pass to Jerome Simpson gave the Vikings a 12-7 lead early in the fourth quarter and Joe Flacco threw his third interception of the game with just over eight minutes to play. The Ravens hadn’t scored since late in the first quarter in what was shaping up to be their worst offensive output of the year.

Getting the ball back at their own 36 with 6:32 remaining, the Ravens moved into the red zone thanks to a 37-yard pass interference penalty and plodded their way to the Minnesota 1 before being stopped on back-to-back plays. On fourth-and-goal Flacco jammed a short throw into the arms of Dennis Pitta for the touchdown, putting them ahead 15-12 with 2:05 to play.

Making his improbable return that day from a horrific hip injury suffered in late July, Pitta catching the game-winning touchdown would make a terrific story.

Or so we thought.

Coming out of the two-minute warning, the Vikings moved into Baltimore territory on a 27-yard pass to Simpson before running back Toby Gerhart — replacing the injured Adrian Peterson — took an inside hand-off and broke multiple tackles from a slipping-and-sliding Ravens defense on his way to a 41-yard touchdown. Just two plays turned euphoria into despair for the thousands of fans still braving the elements in Baltimore.

But it wasn’t over.

Preparing all week for the Vikings to use a “sky” kick to neutralize Pro Bowl returner Jacoby Jones, special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg positioned his unit for a pooch return. Admittedly caught up in the moment awaiting the kickoff, Jones had to sprint up from the end zone to catch the short kick and then streaked down the left sideline for the 77-yard touchdown and a 22-19 lead with 1:16 to go.

Now, the Ravens could exhale, right?

After two straight incompletions to begin the ensuing drive, the Vikings were seemingly on their last legs with a third-and-10 from their own 21-yard line with just over a minute to go. Cassel threw a short screen pass to the shifty Cordarrelle Patterson and the Ravens defense again showed little ability to tackle on the icy field, leading to a 79-yard touchdown.

Are you kidding?

This time, Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh wisely booted the ball to the end zone, prompting Jones to take a knee for the touchback. But the Ravens were again in business when Flacco delivered a pretty 35-yard throw down the middle to Marlon Brown, the undrafted rookie wide receiver who had been one of the better stories of the 2013 season.

Two plays later, Flacco threw what would have been the game-ending interception if not for a questionable pass interference call on Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway, adding controversy to an already wild finish. The ball went back to the Ravens at the Minnesota 27, and an 18-yard completion to Pitta put them on the 9-yard line with 10 seconds to play.

Knowing he was down to his final play or two, Flacco delivered a strike to the 6-foot-5 Brown in the back of the end zone for the acrobatic touchdown. A review confirmed the rookie had kept both feet inbounds, giving the Ravens the 29-26 lead in a defensive struggle that had become a wild shootout in minutes.

The final kick return to the Baltimore 48 was a relative bore as time expired.

Five touchdowns in the final 125 seconds of play.

What else needed to be said other than it being an unbelievable win for the Ravens?

“I’ve never played in a game like that. I’ve never even played a video game like that,” cornerback Jimmy Smith said after one of the wildest finishes in NFL history. “That’s probably the craziest thing I’ve ever been a part of.”

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jamal2000

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Ravens regular-season moment No. 18: 2,000 and then some

Posted on 21 May 2020 by Luke Jones

Check out the No. 19 regular-season moment in Ravens history HERE.

The game meant nothing and everything.

Thanks to second-place Cincinnati’s loss to Cleveland 4 1/2 hours earlier, the Ravens entered the 2003 regular-season finale having already clinched the first division championship in team history. Conventional wisdom called for head coach Brian Billick to rest his key players in preparation for a wild-card playoff showdown with Tennessee six days later, but there was nothing ordinary about the Week 17 opponent.

“This is the Pittsburgh Steelers,” said Billick about his decision to play his starters. “It’s a rivalry. You can’t cheat the game. You can’t cheat the fans.”

Perhaps more important than Baltimore’s desire to break a five-game losing streak against its AFC North adversary and build momentum going into the playoffs was the matter of All-Pro running back Jamal Lewis putting an exclamation point on his historic season. Voted the AP 2003 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, the 24-year-old entered the night needing 48 yards to become the fifth player in league history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. Having already broken the NFL’s single-game rushing record with 295 yards in Week 2, Lewis would touch the ball a whopping 413 times that season while accounting for 46 percent of Baltimore’s total yards and 40 percent of its offensive touchdowns.

The Ravens offense was indeed a one-man show.

The 245-pound Lewis was not only aiming for his 12th 100-yard rushing performance of the year, but 153 rushing yards stood between him and Eric Dickerson’s single-season league record of 2,105 set in 1984. Accomplishing that wouldn’t be easy against a Pittsburgh defense that didn’t want a rival to set a record on its watch.

The bruising back carried five times for 39 yards on Baltimore’s first drive before Anthony Wright threw an interception inside the red zone. However, Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed picked off Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox two plays later to set the stage for history.

Lewis gained nine yards on first down to reach exactly 2,000 yards, but the next play would send 70,000 fans into a frenzy at M&T Bank Stadium. Running between left guard Edwin Mulitalo and future Hall of Fame left tackle Jonathan Ogden, Lewis broke free untouched for a 25-yard touchdown. His league-best 16th run of 20 or more yards that season left no doubt that the 2000 first-round pick from Tennessee would be remembered in NFL rushing lore.

The Steelers would clamp down after that as Lewis would gain only 41 yards on 20 more carries the rest of the way to fall 39 yards short of Dickerson’s record, but the night served as both a celebration and a reminder of the intensity of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry that endures today. Billick never took his foot off the gas as the teams played into overtime with Matt Stover kicking a 47-yard field goal to give the Ravens their first win against Pittsburgh in more than two years and first home victory over their bitter rival since the inaugural 1996 campaign.

You never would have known the game was meaningless by watching as chippy behavior persisted and Ravens punter Dave Zastudil suffered a broken nose and a concussion — and returned to action — over the course of the game. Billick’s decision to play his starters the entire way would be second-guessed for a long time after Baltimore was eliminated by the Titans the following week.

But that night belonged to Lewis, who passed the likes of Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, and O.J. Simpson on the single-season rushing list despite failing to match Dickerson.

“I’m not disappointed,” Lewis said after the 13-10 victory. “The opportunity was there, and we went at it. My line, they blocked well. It was in reach, but we didn’t get it. I think second is good.”

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Ravens regular-season moment No. 21: Scott blows up Roethlisberger

Posted on 14 May 2020 by Luke Jones

Check out the No. 22 regular-season moment in Ravens history HERE.

The first decade of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry wasn’t what it is today.

Yes, there had been some bright spots for Baltimore over the years, but Pittsburgh had won 14 of the first 21 overall meetings, swept the season series three times, and won the only playoff meeting in the 2001 postseason. The intensity was there, but the results largely hadn’t been for the Ravens, who had missed the playoffs in back-to-back years while the Steelers had just won their fifth Super Bowl title.

The 2006 season was different, however, as the Ravens exploded to a franchise-best 8-2 start behind the top defense in the NFL while Pittsburgh was 4-6 and struggling to hang in the playoff race at Thanksgiving. A Week 12 meeting at M&T Bank Stadium would either cement Baltimore’s AFC North lead and all but bury the Steelers’ postseason chances or give Pittsburgh new life for the final month of the regular season.

After forcing a three-and-out to open the game, the Ravens jumped to a 7-0 lead as quarterback Steve McNair found a wide-open Todd Heap for a 20-yard touchdown. With the Steelers unable to move the ball past their own 45-yard line on their first four drives, Baltimore pushed its lead to 14-0 on a Jamal Lewis 1-yard touchdown run with less than five minutes remaining in the first half.

To that point in the game, Rex Ryan’s blitz-happy defense had smothered Pittsburgh, but it was about to get worse for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who had already been sacked twice. On a second-and-8 from the Pittsburgh 14 with under four minutes remaining in the second quarter, Roethlisberger dropped back to pass as Ravens linebacker Bart Scott blitzed off the right edge completely untouched.

Despite the deafening noise generated by nearly 71,000 fans, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said he could hear the crushing blow while in pass coverage downfield. To his credit, Roethlisberger would return to the game on the next series after being helped from the field, but it wouldn’t matter as the Ravens added another field goal to take a commanding 17-0 lead before halftime.

“That’s probably the hardest I’ve ever been hit in my life,” Roethlisberger said after the game. “I just kind of remember my head hitting the ground. I couldn’t really breathe very well.”

The defensive party continued in the second half as Baltimore sacked Roethlisberger six more times and linebacker Adalius Thomas returned a fumble 57 yards for a touchdown in a 27-0 blowout win that was the Ravens’ most dominant performance against the Steelers to date. It was also their second shutout of the season as Pittsburgh crossed midfield only three times, managed a measly 172 yards, committed three turnovers, rushed 11 times for 21 yards, went 1-for-12 on third down, and averaged only 2.8 yards per play.

After a game Pittsburgh had desperately wanted to save its season, head coach Bill Cowher lamented “a pitiful performance” as Baltimore basked in a convincing victory. The Steelers would manage to hang around in the wild-card race by winning their next three games before the Ravens came to Heinz Field on Christmas Eve and flattened their postseason hopes once and for all with a 31-7 win nearly as dominant as the first encounter.

No season series in the history of Ravens-Steelers has been as one-sided with Scott’s monstrous hit becoming one of the great moments in the rivalry from Baltimore’s perspective. Starting with their first sweep of the Steelers that season, the Ravens have gone 17-14 against Pittsburgh as the rivalry has remained one of the NFL’s best for the better part of two decades.

Many other Ravens-Steelers games have been more competitive and meaningful — and there would be other big hits and convincing victories to come — but the sight of Scott knocking the 240-pound Roethlisberger right off his feet was unforgettable.

“It’s a dream shot,” Scott said. “You dream as a child of hitting the quarterback like that.”

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lamarjackson

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Ravens set to play five prime-time games in 2020 schedule

Posted on 07 May 2020 by Luke Jones

The uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic didn’t stop the NFL from releasing the 2020 regular-season schedule on Thursday as the Ravens are set to play five prime-time games, their most since 2011.

How the schedule plays out and whether fans will be able to attend games won’t be known for quite some time, but a national audience will have no shortage of opportunities to watch reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson in action. Three of the five night games will be on the road, and four will take place in a five-game period from Week 10 through Week 14, an unusual scheduling quirk.

The prime-time schedule is headlined by a rare Monday night home game on Sept. 28 in which Kansas City and Baltimore will square off for the third straight season in a potential preview of the AFC Championship. The Ravens will also travel to Heinz Field to play Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving night, the third time in the last 10 years they’ll play on Turkey Day. Baltimore will also play the following Thursday as Dallas comes to M&T Bank Stadium for the first time since 2012 on Dec. 3.

The Ravens open their 25th season in Baltimore at home against Cleveland on Sept. 13.

After alternating home and away games throughout the 2019 season, the Ravens will play back-to-back road games at Indianapolis and New England — the latter being a Sunday night game — after their Week 8 bye, but they will host consecutive games against Jacksonville and the New York Giants in Weeks 15 and 16.

Sporting the NFL’s easiest schedule by opponents’ 2019 winning percentage (.438), the Ravens will play five games against playoff teams from last season: Houston, Kansas City, Philadelphia, New England, and Tennessee. They have eight games against opponents who finished below .500 a year ago: Cincinnati (twice), Cleveland (twice), Washington, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and the New York Giants.

For now, 10 of Baltimore’s 16 regular-season games are scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday starts, but most games are subject to flexible scheduling (see below), an idea that carries a greater meaning in 2020.

2020 SCHEDULE

Sunday, Sept. 13 vs. Cleveland Browns — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: Kevin Stefanski is Cleveland’s ninth head coach — since John Harbaugh was hired by the Ravens in 2008, which says all you need to know about the Browns.

Sunday, Sept. 20 at Houston Texans — 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The Ravens haven’t won in Houston in a decade, but this will be their longest trip of the year and the Texans don’t look nearly as potent after giving away DeAndre Hopkins this offseason.

Monday, Sept. 28 vs. Kansas City Chiefs — 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Skinny: You knew this one would be under the bright lights as Baltimore finally gets a crack at Patrick Mahomes in its home stadium after road defeats in each of the last two seasons.

Sunday, Oct. 4 at Washington Redskins — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The 2000 and 2012 Ravens both lost a game at FedEx Field before winning the Super Bowl, one of the odd factoids you’ll find considering how superior the franchise has been to its NFC neighbor.

Sunday, Oct. 11 vs. Cincinnati Bengals — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: Joe Burrow is the latest Heisman Trophy quarterback to join the AFC North, but the Ravens are eyeing four straight wins over the Bengals for the second time in the Harbaugh era.

Sunday, Oct. 18 at Philadelphia Eagles — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The second-round selection of mobile quarterback Jalen Hurts makes the Eagles offense quite interesting, but the Baltimore defense is used to seeing superior athleticism in practice every day.

Sunday, Oct. 25 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: Ben Roethlisberger had long been the king of AFC North quarterbacks, but this will be his first meeting against the guy who’s assumed the throne.

Sunday, Nov. 1 BYE
Skinny: Baltimore’s scheduled break falls in Week 8 for the second straight year.

Sunday, Nov. 8 at Indianapolis Colts — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The Colts have one of the more talented rosters in the league, but are we really buying a 38-year-old Philip Rivers being the answer there?

Sunday, Nov. 15 at New England Patriots — 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Skinny: The Ravens playing a prime-time game in Foxboro is nothing new, but Tom Brady not being on the opposing side will certainly be strange.

Sunday, Nov. 22 vs. Tennessee Titans — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: You think the Ravens and their revamped front seven will be pumped for the rematch against Derrick Henry and the Titans team that broke their hearts in January?

Thursday, Nov. 26 at Pittsburgh Steelers — 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Skinny: These AFC North rivals should give thanks meeting up for the holiday as long as Mike Tomlin stays away from the sideline.

Thursday, Dec. 3 vs. Dallas Cowboys — 8:20 p.m. (FOX/NFL Network)
Skinny: If you’re going to play two Thursday games, you might as well have them back to back as an elite Baltimore secondary going up against the talented Cowboys wide receivers should be fun.

Monday, Dec. 14 at Cleveland Browns — 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Skinny: The Browns have had a strong offseason on paper, but we’ll know whether players have bought into the new regime if they’re still in the hunt in December.

Sunday, Dec. 20 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: Calais Campbell is now a Raven and the Jaguars are shaping up to be one of NFL’s worst teams in 2020, so we won’t mention what happened the last time these two teams played.

Sunday, Dec. 27 vs. New York Giants — 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
Skinny: It’s always fun seeing a Super Bowl XXXV rematch, but Daniel Jones playing on the road against this kind of defense wouldn’t seem to bode well for the Giants.

Sunday, Jan. 3 at Cincinnati Bengals — 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: Playoff expansion has eliminated one first-round bye, but I’d still be interested to see how Harbaugh would handle Week 17 if Baltimore were in the same position as last year.

Notes: Flexible scheduling can be applied for all Sunday games in Weeks 5 through 17. A flex-scheduling change would be announced at least 12 days before the game except in the final week of the season. For Week 17, the Sunday night game is announced no later than six days prior to Jan. 3.

Another wrinkle implemented in recent years is a select number of games being “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring certain games to wider audiences.

Ravens’ refund policy

“If a game is cancelled and cannot be rescheduled or is played under conditions that prohibit fans from attending, ticket buyers who purchase tickets directly from the club (i.e. season tickets or single-game tickets) have the option of a full refund of the ticket purchase price (plus associated fees) for any impacted games, or they have the ability to apply the applicable amount to a future ticket purchase.”

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Ravens regular-season moment No. 24: New hope

Posted on 06 May 2020 by Luke Jones

Check out the No. 25 regular-season moment in Ravens history HERE.

Quarterback had mostly been a wasteland in the 12-year history of the Ravens.

Vinny Testaverde (1996) and Steve McNair (2006) were single-season bright spots and Trent Dilfer admirably managed a run-heavy offense as a historic defense carried the 2000 Ravens to a Super Bowl championship, but the quarterback position had been littered with accomplished veterans well past their prime, failed draft picks, and overwhelmed journeymen. Fifteen different quarterbacks had started games for Baltimore from 1996-2007 and just three had started all 16 games in a season while some top-shelf defenses led by future Hall of Fame players were largely wasted.

The inability to develop 2003 first-round pick Kyle Boller eventually cost Super Bowl XXXV winner Brian Billick his job after the 2007 campaign as John Harbaugh, brother of ex-Ravens quarterback Jim Harbaugh, became the third head coach in franchise history. Three months later, the Ravens unsuccessfully attempted to trade up for Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan and settled for Joe Flacco of FCS-level Delaware — who had carved up Navy for 434 yards and four touchdowns the previous October to land on the local radar — with the 18th overall pick of the 2008 draft.

The organization was excited about the strong-armed, 6-foot-6 quarterback’s potential, but there were few serious thoughts of Flacco being the Week 1 starter as Boller and 2017 fifth-round pick Troy Smith entered training camp as the more likely candidates to win the starting job. Flacco’s preseason debut was a disaster as he went 0-for-3 and lost a fumble in fourth-quarter action in New England, strengthening the perception that he wasn’t yet ready to be the starter.

But circumstances would change very quickly.

Boller suffered a season-ending shoulder injury the next week while a serious tonsil infection hospitalized Smith and kept him sidelined for weeks. Flacco became the emergency starter in the third preseason game at St. Louis, finishing an underwhelming 18-for-37 for 152 yards and a touchdown. The 23-year-old had shown some improvement over the final three preseason games, but he still didn’t look ready for the starting gig as expectations for a team coming off a 5-11 season sank even lower.

Exactly a month after that ugly preseason opener, Flacco made his first NFL start as the Ravens began the 2008 season against Cincinnati at M&T Bank Stadium. His arm wasn’t much of a factor as he went 15-for-29 for just 129 yards, but his legs provided the highlight play of the game in the midst of a 229-yard running output by Baltimore that included a 42-yard score from Mark Clayton and a surprising 86-yard performance by fullback Le’Ron McClain.

With the Bengals showing a blitz up the middle late in the third quarter and the Ravens leading 10-3, Flacco called an audible to a bootleg and galloped 38 yards for the touchdown as the crowd roared and chanted, “Let’s go, Flacco!” It was a refreshing expression of hope after years of disappointment and frustration at the quarterback position that occasionally turned nasty and embarrassing.

“I kind of thought I heard [the chant], but I wasn’t really sure. I thought, ‘Why would they be doing that?,'” said Flacco as he laughed after the 17-10 win. “Hey, if I can keep them on my side like that, it will be a good time.”

That optimism would be rewarded as the surprising Ravens went 11-5 and the rookie signal-caller was unspectacular but steady enough, a standard so many of his predecessors had failed to meet. Baltimore would win two road playoff games and advance to the AFC Championship to begin a franchise-record run of five straight trips to the playoff, three conference championship appearances, and a win in Super Bowl XLVII that capped one of the greatest individual playoff runs in NFL history by Flacco.

No one really knew what Flacco would become after that improbable touchdown run in the 2008 opener, but that day was the first of 137 consecutive regular-season and postseason starts by a single Ravens quarterback, an idea that previously felt all but impossible.

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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) throws a pass against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

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Ravens to host Saturday prime-time game in divisional round

Posted on 30 December 2019 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will begin their playoff march to Super Bowl LIV in prime time.

After finishing a franchise-record 14-2 regular season with a 28-10 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday, top-seed Baltimore will host an AFC divisional-round tilt at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 8:15 p.m., a game that will be televised on CBS. The Ravens will play the lowest remaining seed of Houston, Buffalo, or Tennessee, who will all compete in the AFC wild-card round this Saturday.

This marks the first time since the 2011 postseason that the AFC North champion Ravens will host a divisional-round game after enjoying a first-round bye for just the third time in team history. The Ravens won their only playoff meeting with the Texans in the 2011 postseason and are 2-1 in playoff encounters with the Titans, an old AFC Central rival. Baltimore has never faced the Bills in the playoffs.

A win in the divisional round would allow the Ravens to host the AFC Championship game for the first time in franchise history. The city of Baltimore last hosted the conference championship game on Jan. 3, 1971 when the Colts defeated Oakland at Memorial Stadium on their way to winning Super Bowl V.

After securing the No. 1 seed in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs for the first time in team history, the Ravens will aim to win their third Super Bowl in their 24-year history.

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Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Seth Roberts (11) celebrates with teammates Marquise Brown (15) and Willie Snead (83) after scoring on a touchdown pass from Lamar Jackson, not visible, during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

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Twelve Ravens thoughts following Week 11 win over Houston

Posted on 19 November 2019 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens winning a sixth consecutive game for the first time since 2000 in a 41-7 demolition of Houston, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The debate over MVP continues, but I don’t know how anyone could objectively watch the Ravens win their last four games — three against playoff contenders — by a combined 101 points and not say they’re football’s best team. They look like they’re playing a different sport than everyone else right now.

2. I had to laugh at overreaction from the few remaining critics about Lamar Jackson’s 1-for-6 first quarter before he completed 13 straight passes and finished the day with four touchdown passes. Four other quarterbacks threw four interceptions in Week 11, one shy of Jackson’s season total.

3. Jackson ranks 11th or better in completion percentage, passing yards per attempt, touchdown passes, QBR, and passer rating. He’s fifth in Pro Football Focus’ passer grading. Yes, his rushing ability is what makes him special, but he’s made an obvious statement as an above-average passer this season.

4. Matthew Judon was a game wrecker with two sacks, an additional tackle for a loss, four quarterback hits, a forced fumble, and seven total tackles. We can debate to what lengths the Ravens should go to extend him, but Judon is going to get paid very handsomely.

5. His role predictably changed with the Mark Ingram addition, but Gus Edwards had a 63-yard touchdown and 112-yard rushing day against a Houston run defense that hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in the regular season since 2017. He could be the best short-yardage back in the NFL.

6. Seth Roberts caught his first touchdown of 2019, but wide receivers combined for just five catches for 51 yards. That’s not a stat line you typically associate with a 34-point victory, but this group works hard as blockers and doesn’t complain about the lack of involvement in the passing game.

7. There was plenty of bravado from Marcus Peters when he matched up against All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Peters’ play has been excellent, and his preparation and professionalism have been praised since his arrival. Regardless of what happens with his free agency, this trade was outstanding.

8. Watching Ingram’s second touchdown made me wonder if Jackson is giving his teammates pointers for when they’re in the open field. This offense is something else to watch, scoring on seven straight drives — not counting the kneel to end the first half — after a slow start.

9. Jackson targeting Miles Boykin on two of the first three pass plays seemed like a deliberate attempt to get the rookie more involved. There was optimism that Boykin might be turning the corner after his 50-yard catch in Seattle, but he hasn’t registered a catch since the bye.

10. We didn’t see many wrinkles from Houston coming off the bye as I expected Bill O’Brien would at least use more of an up-tempo attack to offset Baltimore’s frequent substituting. I was disappointed Deshaun Watson, a terrific quarterback, didn’t hold up his end of the anticipated showdown with Jackson.

11. The Ravens are six touchdowns shy of the single-season franchise record (47) set in 2009. We’re still a week from Thanksgiving. This is the most impressive regular-season team we’ve seen in Baltimore since at least 2006, a team often forgotten because of the crushing playoff loss to Indianapolis.

12. I try to tread carefully with attendance since I haven’t paid to go to a Ravens game since 2010, but I was surprised over the number of empty seats at the stadium. There was much buzz for a matchup between two young stars at quarterback and two 2018 playoff teams.

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