The Ravens Season That Wasn’t

The team that eyed the Super Bowl missed the playoffs.

It couldn’t have been any more fitting how the Ravens ended their 2021 campaign.

In the five games between Weeks 13 and 17, the Ravens lost all five games — four of those losses were within two points. So, of course, when it came down to a do-or-die Week 18 game (winning meant a playoff chance, losing meant going home) there was nothing else that could’ve happened but an overtime loss by a field goal.

Many thought this home game against Pittsburgh would really be nothing more than a swan song for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben has made it clear that this season will be his last, but it seemed as though he wasn’t quite ready for that season to end as he led his squad with the 57th game-winning drive of his career, capped off with a 36-yarder from Chris Boswell in overtime that sent the Ravens home.

It was the most poetic ending to an NFL season this year.

Hopes were high for Baltimore when the year began. And for the first few months of the season, those hopes hadn’t wavered. After Week 12, they were 8–3.

But many of those games were more than close. Three of them had gone to overtime. Four of those wins saw the Ravens score seven or less points in the first half. And who could forget Justin Tucker’s NFL record-breaking 66-yarder in Week 3 against a Detroit team that they should have pummeled?

I didn’t think it was sustainable.

The Boy Who Loved Joe Kelly on Twitter

I was right.

After yesterday’s loss, Latavius Murray put it best, “A tale of two seasons. First half, we found a way to win these games and the second half we didn’t.”

It wasn’t for lack of trying. They played like hell after they started every game sloppy.

And it wasn’t for lack of talent. Head Coach John Harbaugh is one of the best in the game (this is only his second losing season in his fourteen with the team).

But that talent just couldn’t stay healthy. They finished the season with an NFL-high 19 players on the IL — one of which was superstar QB Lamar Jackson who missed five games this season including the last four. His backup Tyler Huntley did his very best, but when he tested positive for COVID in Week 16, the Ravens were forced to start 35-year-old Josh Johnson, a veteran of 13 NFL teams as well as the UFL, AAF, and XFL.

One loss with a third-string quarterback does not a losing season make (there were countless season-ending injuries on both sides of the ball), but I do think it was representative of that season that wasn’t.

What would a season with Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins, Marcus Peters, Ronnie Stanley, Marlon Humphrey, or DeShon Elliott look like?

Justin Tucker can’t do it all by himself*.

We will never know. And that’s a shame. This team could have been scary if they could have been healthy, but we got the season that we got. No one expected a losing 8–9: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott publicly placed bets that Lamar Jackson would win MVP (he only threw four more passes the rest of the season) and that the Ravens would win the Super Bowl (they lost the next five games, their last of the year — that’s a jinx if I’ve ever seen one).

There’s always next year.

Want to chat sports? Email me: theboywholovedjoekelly@gmail.com

Want to keep updated with the column? Find it on Instagram @theboywholovedjoekelly and Twitter @boywholovedmlb

*They need to sign Justin Tucker to a twenty-year, one-billion-dollar extension. Offer him deferred money that would leave Bobby Bonilla in the dust.

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