6 takeaways from Ravens’ 17-3 loss to Bills

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Kevin Oestreicher
·6 min read
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The Baltimore Ravens fell to the Buffalo Bills by the final score of 17-3 in the divisional round. It was a disappointing showing for Baltimore’s offense, as the team was held to just three points for the first time since January 16, 2010.

The Ravens struggled to move the ball on offense and squandered what was a pretty good defensive performance. Despite being placed in some bad situations, Baltimore’s defense held Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense to just 10 points, as seven of the points that Buffalo scored came on a pick-six thrown by Lamar Jackson.

The loss marks a disappointing end to a season unlike any other for the Ravens. Injuries, the coronavirus, and subpar play all played a part, but Baltimore fought as a team to make it to the playoffs, where they won their first playoff game since the 2014 season.

Though it’s a difficult loss to swallow immediately afterward, let’s take a look at some major takeaways from the Ravens’ season-ending loss.

Lamar Jackson is the present and future of the Ravens

AP Photo/Adrian Kraus

Jackson had a rough go against the Bills in the divisional round. He completed 14-of-24 passes for 162 yards and an interception while also rushing for 34 yards on nine carries. He made some poor decisions, like taking sacks when he should have thrown the ball away or throwing his first career interception in the red zone. However, Jackson is still what makes Baltimore's offense work, and he proved that again on Saturday night, even if the result wasn't what the Ravens wanted in the end. Jackson turned 24 just over a week ago. He's improved in every season (the box score statistics don't tell the whole story) and he'll only get better as time goes on. He's a transcendent player and he's a nightmare to gameplan against. Jackson made plays with both his arm and his legs against the Bills, and even though it wasn't his best game, he showed that with the right team around him, he can be a very special player.

Baltimore's run game won't always be dominant

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

It's been a long time since Baltimore's rushing attack has been held in check by an opposing defense. Despite gaining 150 total yards on the ground and averaging 4.7 yards-per-carry, the Ravens somewhat struggled to run the football on the Bills. It was a concerning trend for the Ravens, as they opened the game absolutely gashing Buffalo's defense to the tune of 31 yards on the first three carries of the game. However, as the game wore on, it suddenly became tougher for the Ravens to run. Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins averaged 4.2 yards-per-carry each while Lamar Jackson only averaged 3.8 yards-per-carry. The Bills ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of run defense, so to see the Ravens not capitalize on that was disappointing. Baltimore's ground game won't always be dominant. However, when it's not, the passing offense needs to step up. Though the pass game showed up in spots, it wasn't enough to secure the Ravens a win.

Marquise Brown is part of the solution for the Ravens' pass offense

The second-year receiver has earned the nickname Marquise "Playoff" Brown. He's shown up when it matters most for the Ravens, and despite some major struggles early on in the season, he turned it around and became a key piece of Baltimore's passing game. Against the Bills, Brown hauled in four receptions for 87 yards. While that stat line in itself doesn't look overly impressive, the Ravens only had 222 receiving yards as a team, meaning Brown accounted for almost 40% of the team's success through the air. He showed the ability to create yards after the catch and be a dynamic playmaker, something the Ravens were missing throughout most of the regular season. While it'll be trendy to talk about Baltimore adding more receiver help this offseason, Brown should definitely be in the thick of the Ravens' plans moving forward.

Baltimore's offensive line needs work

AP Photo/Adrian Kraus

The Ravens' offensive line started the season off rather slowly. Retirements, injuries, and just bad play exposed the unit as a weakness for Baltimore. However, over the last six weeks leading up to the Ravens' matchup with the Bills, the offensive line looked a lot better. Unfortunately, the units' performance against Buffalo showed that the team needs to upgrade the offensive line in the offseason. Center Patrick Mekari had arguably his worst game as a Raven, constantly having snap issues, which plagued Baltimore earlier in the season with Matt Skura. Ben Powers had his worst day in a Ravens uniform, and Bradley Bozeman looked frustrated for the entirety of the game. Baltimore will certainly look to add a center, as well as a guard, and maybe even a backup tackle in the offseason. They need to make sure Jackson is protected at all times.

The Ravens' defense is legit

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Baltimore's defense played about as well as they could have considering the circumstances. They were placed in bad situations on multiple occasions due to the Ravens' offense and special teams units. Yet, in spite of that, they only gave up 10 points to Josh Allen and the Bills' high-flying offense. They held Allen to just 206 passing yards and a lone touchdown. The only player that really burned them was wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who caught eight passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. Baltimore still has to learn how to get pressure on quarterbacks without blitzing, but with an offseason where the team can retool and get healthy, they should be even better next year.

Baltimore's coaching staff needs to show improvement to keep their jobs beyond next season

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Baltimore's coaching staff has had an up and down season. John Harbaugh is still considered one of the best coaches in the NFL. However, the lack of postseason success can only see fingers pointed elsewhere for so long before it moves up the ladder. Granted, the Ravens did win a playoff game for the first time since the 2014 season, which shows some growth. But after missing the postseason for three consecutive years and then getting one-and-done performances the last two seasons, one playoff win might not be enough. To keep their jobs beyond next season, the coaches will have to prove that they can continue to help the team evolve. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has taken a massive amount of flak for his play-calling and underwhelming passing offense. Baltimore was dead last in overall pass offense in 2020, and regardless of how good a team can run the football, not being able to throw it consistently is clearly a hindrance. Defensively, Don Martindale is considered one of the best defensive coordinators in the entire NFL, but his defense sometimes struggles to create pressure without blitzes and can't play football consistently for 60 minutes. The Ravens' coaching staff deserves another go-round in 2021. However, if they fail to show improvement, there could be changes coming in Baltimore.

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