Streaking Ravens must win out and get help to earn wild card
BALTIMORE (AP) - The Baltimore Ravens have won three straight wins and are playing well enough to win their last two games and finish with an admirable 11-5 record.
Unfortunately, that's still not good enough to get them into the playoffs for the third year in a row. The ravens need help, and it may have to come from their greatest rival - the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Baltimore's 40-14 defeat to Jacksonville on Sunday didn't shift the AFC wildcard image, which has been expanded to include three teams this year. The Ravens (9-5) stay behind Cleveland (10-4), Tennessee (10-4), Indianapolis (10-4) and Miami (9-5).
The Steelers play the Colts this Sunday and close against the Browns. If Pittsburgh wins one of those games and Baltimore beats the New York Giants and Cincinnati, the Ravens will be in.
For at least two weeks, Raven's trainer, John Harbaugh, will root (swallow) the Steelers.
"Of course. We want to go to the playoffs," said Harbaugh on Monday. "We know we need help, but the focus for us will really be on taking care of our business. It doesn't matter what others do, if we. "Don't mind our job. We can control how we play and we have to play our best football. "
After negotiating a COVID-19 outbreak at their training facility and losing three along the way, the Ravens have recovered at a high level over the past three weeks. They beat Dallas 34-17 before winning a thriller in Cleveland and dominating the overmatched Jaguars.
“This team is resilient. We'll definitely hold on, "said defense attorney Brandon Williams, who missed the time with an injury and was on the reserve / COVID-19 list." We're grinders, and we keep playing no matter what. We are not alarmed. We don't flinch. That's what I love about this team - we're a bunch of warriors and we go out there and do what we have to do. "
So it's hard to imagine a disappointment against the Giants (5-9) and Bengals (2-10-1 before Pittsburgh on Monday night).
"We just have to focus on what we have in front of us," said quarterback Lamar Jackson. "We now have the Giants in front of us."
What not? Jackson threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score, and the defense bounced back from a poor performance in Cleveland to hide the Jaguars in the crucial first half.
WHAT NEEDS HELP?
The secondary played well despite the lack of injured starters Marcus Peters (calf) and Jimmy Smith (shoulder). In addition, backup cornerback Davontae Harris injured himself during the game.
Defensive coordinator Don Martindale had done well by topping up reserves, but he would love it if the unit on the track was completely healthy.
Dez Bryant's return to the NFL peaked on Sunday when the 32-year-old receiver scored his first touchdown with the Cowboys since December 2017.
Humble wasn't a word associated with Bryant during his days in Dallas, but that's how he comes across in the second phase of his career.
"One thing I love about this team is the real team ball. If one is successful, we all succeed," he said. "I don't get that touchdown (without) the belief these guys have, the belief they have in had me. "
Not only did Mark Ingram lose his starting job, he was a healthy scratch on Sunday when he was on the inactive list.
Ingram, who turned 31 on Monday, sustained an ankle injury and COVID-19 problems. He is now behind J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards on the depth map.
"There are only a number of circumstances that have brought us to this place where the guys who run the ball really have a lot of success," said Harbaugh. "It's a good problem for us as a team, but me." I know Mark wants to be out there and carry the stone. "
Offensive lineman Tire Phillips is hoping to recover from a concussion he suffered at the end of a 22-yard run with a fumble that left Baltimore behind for the first time in the fourth quarter. He got a headache and a pawn for his efforts.
800 - Jackson is the first quarterback in NFL history to fly 800 yards in consecutive seasons. He and Michael Vick (2004, 2006) are the only quarterbacks to collect 800 yards in two different seasons.
The Ravens end their home game schedule against the Giants on Sunday and are looking for their eighth home win in a row in December and the 13th in 14 games. Her 12-2 monthly record since 2018 is the best in the NFL.
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