OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens play at the Tennessee Titans in the wild-card round on Sunday (1:05 ET, ESPN), which is one day prior to the one-year anniversary of franchise’s biggest upset loss in the postseason.
On Jan. 11, 2020, Baltimore was the AFC’s top seed and a 10-point favorite before falling to Tennessee 28-12 in the divisional round. It seems everyone sees Sunday’s postseason rematch as the ultimate revenge game for the Ravens, except for, the Ravens themselves.
“We’re just focused on the game,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Previous games have little bearing. It’s got some history, the rivalry does sure. But what impact does any of that have on the next game?”
Baltimore certainly has an emotional playoff history with Tennessee. In the 2000 and 2008 postseasons, the Ravens knocked off the top-seeded Titans in Nashville. In the 2003 playoffs, Baltimore lost at home to Tennessee in the first round.
The latest painful punch came last year, when the Ravens rolled into the playoffs on a 12-game winning streak as the Super Bowl favorites. But Baltimore trailed 14-0 early in the second quarter and never led for a minute.
Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon compared the shocking loss to a car crash. Now, all Judon wants to do is look ahead.
“Man, we’re not worried about last year,” Judon said. “If we could get last year back, we would go back to last year. I don’t know why you all want to continue to talk about it — we’re in 2021. Last year is last year, and right now is right now.”
With that loss to the Titans, the Ravens became the first No. 1 seed to fall to a No. 6 seed since 2010. Baltimore also became the sixth team since the NFL playoffs began in 1933 to win at least 14 games in a season but fail to win a postseason game.
In the offseason, quarterback Lamar Jackson suggested the Ravens lost to the Titans because they were looking past them. It’s a stance Harbaugh has publicly disagreed with.
Asked about another playoff game against the Titans, Jackson said, “It’s not about them; it’s about us. It really doesn’t matter who we play. We’re going to go in there with the same mentality. Just focus on our assignment and just try to come out with a W.”
This season’s Ravens team doesn’t look decidedly different from last season’s one. Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda is retired, All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley is on injured reserve after suffering a season-ending ankle injury and safety Earl Thomas is gone after allegedly punching a teammate in training camp.
But Baltimore still has Jackson, tight end Mark Andrews and cornerback Marlon Humphrey. In fact, 29 of the 44 players (66%) who suited up for last year’s playoff game against Tennessee will do so again Sunday. But Harbaugh said you can’t compare the teams or situations.
“We’re excited about the opportunity,” Harbaugh said. “I do love the team. I love the players and the coaches. I love what we’ve been through — the adversity, even — [and] the challenges, because it forges you and it makes you who you are. So, that’s exciting, man. You’re living in the moment, and it’s an exciting thing to be in the playoffs in the National Football League.”