The Ravens scored touchdowns on 63.3 percent of their trips to the red zone this season, ranking 12th in the NFL. They've been even more efficient recently, scoring touchdowns on 73.3 percent of their red zone trips the past three games.
Since entering the NFL in 2018, Lamar Jackson has few peers among quarterbacks when it comes to red-zone prowess. He has thrown 47 touchdowns, no interceptions and run for 13 touchdowns over his career.
However, finishing drives with touchdowns will be a point of emphasis for the Ravens during Sunday's playoff game against the Tennessee Titans.
In last year's playoff loss against Tennessee, finishing drives was a real problem for the Ravens that led to their demise. They only scored one touchdown in their 28-12 loss, and they were held scoreless on three of their five trips to the red zone.
In the Ravens' regular-season loss to the Titans earlier this season, Baltimore settled for three field goals (from 30, 27 and 29 yards) after reaching the red zone. The final field goal with 15 seconds left sent the game to overtime, but the Ravens had the ball at Tennessee's 14-yard line with under a minute left and a chance to win in regulation.
"Finish" has become a theme word for the Ravens during their five-game winning streak heading into the playoffs. Now that have reached the postseason, they want to capitalize fully on every trip to the red zone.
"That red zone is even more so (about) being efficient; all 11 guys doing their job, making plays," tight end Mark Andrews said. "You do that, you're going to be efficient in the red zone. The last couple games, or five games or whatever, you look at our red zone, we have been that. So, it's all about us. We're worrying about us, and especially when we get into the red zone. We've been doing a good job. So, we've just got to continue to do that, and continue to make plays."
Ravens Not Getting Caught Up in Titans Taunting
Some of Tennessee's players had a lot to say after upsetting Baltimore in last year's playoffs. Then in November, the Titans drew the ire of Baltimore's sideline, including Head Coach John Harbaugh, when they huddled on the Ravens logo at midfield about 10 minutes before the game.
Staying composed is often a key during playoff games, when emotions run high and players on both sides can get chippy. However, Harbaugh said he was confident the Ravens would be locked in on winning.
"We're focused on the game, and playing the game between the lines, between the whistles and between our ears – that's what we're focused on," Harbaugh said.
"Anything else, we're not going to … It's the same thing we say every week; we're not going to get baited into things. We're going to play the game to win the game. That's going to be our focus no matter who we're playing, or how the game goes, or whatever. However the game goes, we'll just deal with it as we find it when we get there."
A Healthier Andrews Says One Pass Last Year Still Haunts Him
Ravens tight end Mark Andrews is happy to be healthy and back in the playoffs, because last year he was hobbled in January. That came into play on Baltimore's opening drive of last year's playoffs, when Andrews couldn't elevate like he normally does on a high pass thrown by Jackson. The ball tipped off Andrews' hands into the hands of Titans safety Kevin Byard, and things started to go downhill for the Ravens from there.
Asked about the play, Andrews was honest and still remembers it.
"Last year, I was hurting bad," Andrews said. "Obviously, that play replays in my head a ton, and I've worked really hard this offseason to try to get back to this point, obviously, and play better and be healthy, and I am right now.
"I think almost the second that we lost that game last year, I was thinking about, 'I want to get back to this moment. I want to get back to this moment, so we can see what we can do.' We've got such a talented team. For us, the sky is the limit. So, I just am extremely blessed to be back here, with this team, with these players, with these coaches."
Pat Ricard Does Andrews a Favor
Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard is used to having teammates thank him for his blocking. But Andrews, who has Type-1 diabetes, thanked Ricard for being alert when Andrews was feeling a little queasy recently.
"I was low the other day before practice – my blood sugar was (low) – and I started cramping or doing whatever happened, and Pat dropped all of his things immediately, ran out of practice, got me some Gatorade, got me some fruit snacks, came back and gave them to me," Andrews said. "It was within 10 seconds he did this, but he did it immediately, without a second thought. And that's the type of person that he is. He's an incredible teammate, incredible friend."
Since the season-ending injury to tight end Nick Boyle, Ricard's blocking ability has become even more important, and the time he has spent in tight end meetings has allowed Andrews to know Ricard even better.
"It's been so much fun, first, to see Pat and the way he's evolved and how much has been put on his plate," Andrews said. "He's been almost strictly a fullback for so long, and now he's playing the full tight end position, and he's doing a really, really good job of it. He's just a good dude."