Following their 17-3 defeat to the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night, the Baltimore Ravens were already looking forward to next year as soon as they hit the podium.
Said left tackle Orlando Brown: "We're about as motivated as it gets."
The Ravens' second straight Divisional Round exit came and went after another struggling offensive performance. Baltimore was held to its lowest point total all season and, despite the Ravens defense keeping them in the game, the offense faltered late in the third quarter of a one-score game after Lamar Jackson's game-altering pick-six in the red zone.
Jackson, the NFL's reigning MVP, was knocked out of the game on the very next drive after suffering a concussion, and Baltimore's fate quickly materialized despite an endearing effort from undrafted rookie backup Tyler Huntley. The Ravens' offensive woes have been a constant in three consecutive playoff appearances, averaging just 13 points in those four games (1-3).
"He's frustrated. He's doing good," Willie Snead said about the Ravens QB, via ESPN. "He said he's fine from the concussion but he's frustrated that we were that close and that we didn't get to finish drives. He's the ultimate competitor. He doesn't like to lose."
Jackson's night ended with just 164 yards passing (14-of-24) and 34 yards on the ground. Even the Ravens' All-Pro kicker Justin Tucker had a bad night, missing two of his three field goal attempts in the first half.
The Ravens' 2020 playoff run did come with some positives. Jackson earned his first playoff win in the wild-card round and avenged last year's postseason defeat to the Tennessee Titans in the same game. Unfortunately, that theme of revenge will have to carry over into 2021.
"It's a tough loss," Harbaugh told reporters after the game. "To get to the AFC Championship Game, you've got to play two really great games and things have to bounce your way. That didn't happen for us today. But I'm proud of the guys, nonetheless. I feel like what we've been through as a football team, the road we traveled this year, the challenges that we faced are all well documented. I feel like our guys handled it with toughness and grace. Even today, when we weren't at our best, we fought. We'll hold our head high walking out of here and into the offseason."
Who will be back for the Ravens remains to be seen with several key players set to become free agents this offseason, including Yannick Ngakoue, Derek Wolfe, Matt Skura, Gus Edwards, Pernell McPhee, D.J. Fluker and Snead, among others. Perhaps the most important soon-to-be free agent is edge rusher and team captain Matt Judon, who is anticipating a big contract after playing on a franchise tag in 2020.
"I would like to thank the Ravens organization," said Judon after the loss, via The Baltimore Sun. "You all might ask me, but I don't know what's going to happen next year. I don't know what's going to happen in my future. That's all out in front of me. But the past five years, man, it's been a hell of a ride. I wouldn't ask for another organization, or coaches, or mentors, or players to play with, man. Some of these guys I've played with, they're my real brothers, real-life brothers. So with that being said, I love the Ravens and the organization. I would just like to thank them."