OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens are embarking on a “new beginning,” according to coach John Harbaugh.
After a season full of ups and downs, the Ravens are riding high after winning the AFC North with a 26-24 victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week 17. Baltimore also snapped a three-year playoff drought and will host the Los Angeles Chargers in the wild card round Sunday.
“We put ourselves in a little bit of a hole when we lost three games in a row,” Harbaugh said. “That was a situation we found ourselves in. Just for the guys not to blink, not to bat an eye … Go to work, compete in games – that’s what you’re proud of. You look back and look at it now … It looked insurmountable, but it was one game at a time.
“Now you look back, and it was a heck of an accomplishment; it had to be. If we didn’t win six-out-of-seven, we wouldn’t be the AFC North Champions.”
Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson has played a key role in the Ravens’ resurgence this season. He has gone 6-1 since taking over as the starter for the injured Joe Flacco.
“It’s been working out ever since I came here. I fell in love with it. You just keep going forward.
God blessed me.”
Jackson leads all NFL quarterbacks with 695 yards rushing. Overall, the Ravens are ranked second in the league with 2,441 yards rushing behind Seattle.
“We love this kind of football. It’s ground and pound, smash-mouth football,” offensive lineman Marshal Yanda said “We get stronger as the game gets longer, and we relish that.”
The ball-control offense has worked especially well because the Ravens own the NFL’s top defense. Baltimore has dominated time of possession, which has helped keep its defenders fresh late in the games and make plays in the fourth quarter.
“We have the pieces, we have the coaches, we have the drive,” safety Eric Weddle said. “We’ve worked harder than we ever had this past offseason. When you have a group that plays for each other…People look at our defense and our team, and there’s a lot of other more talented teams out there. But, you look at our team, and we’re the best team. Because that’s what we are. We play for each other, we rely on each other, we have each other’s back. It’s not always the most talented team that wins, it’s the best team. It’s the best team that wins. We’re out to prove that this year.”
-- LB Terrell Suggs appeared in the 229th game of his career Week 17, the most in Ravens history. He is also the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks (132½), sack yards (-944½) and forced fumbles (37).
-- S Eric Weddle earned a $1 million bonus from the team for making the playoffs and earning his sixth Pro Bowl invitation. The 33-year-old veteran has now earned Pro Bowl honors in three-consecutive years – all while playing for the Ravens. Prior to his time in Baltimore, he went to three Pro Bowls while with the Chargers.
-- RB Kenneth Dixon had a career-high 117 yards on 12 carries Week 17 against the Browns. Dixon has been a key contributor since being activated from the IR in November. He has 333 yards on 60 carries with three touchdowns.
-- K Justin Tucker surpassed 140 points (141) for the third-consecutive season. No other NFL kicker has scored at least 140 points in each of the past three seasons. The 141 tie (2016 and 2017) Tucker’s previous single-season points records in franchise history.