This was the Ravens’ mantra the entire season, throughout the week and, above all, throughout the day on Sunday when they outlived the Titans, their enemies, 20-13, in the AFC special case season finisher round in Nashville.
That word “finish” was imprinted on Ravens T-shirts. It was referred to in group gatherings. Ravens mentor John Harbaugh did everything shy of getting Tony Robbins for a persuasive discourse to help his players to remember that mission.
The Ravens completed on Sunday. They completed a slugfest of a game where they fell behind 10-0 and afterward clutched the 17-10 lead they took to endure and progress.
Presently they’ll play in following end of the week’s divisional round, either at Kansas City or Buffalo, forthcoming the result of Sunday’s late game between the Browns and Steelers. A Steelers win and the Ravens (12-5) play the Chiefs in Kansas City. A Browns win and the Ravens will head out to Buffalo to play the Bills.
Of most quick significance, however, the Ravens won their first playoff game since 2014.
“Right now, for me, this is the best win ever,’’ Harbaugh said.
Coming from a mentor who’s won a Super Bowl and taken the Ravens to the playoff in nine of his 13 years in Baltimore, those were solid words.
“Not just because of what was at stake, but because it had so much meaning for our guys and the things that we’ve been through together this year, and how our guys have responded, how our leaders have led,’’ Harbaugh said. “This may be the best win I’ve ever been associated with.’’
Protectively, the Ravens were splendid, holding the Titans’ 2,000-yard running back Derrick Henry to 40 yards on 18 conveys. Henry scrambled for 195 yards in the Titans’ season finisher prevail upon the Ravens a year ago and he ran for 133 yards, including the match dominating 29-yard TD run in additional time, in November.
Upsettingly, the Ravens had quarterback Lamar Jackson, the ruling NFL MVP and perhaps the most unique parts in the group.
Jackson, who entered the day 0-2 in season finisher games, shook off a moderate beginning and completed 17 of 24 passing for 179 yards and an INT and he scrambled for 136 yards, including an electric 48-yard TD, on 16 conveys.
The Ravens moved up 401 yards of offense to 209 for the Titans. They out-surged the Titans 236-31.
“We finished,’’ Jackson said after the game. “We finished. We finally finished.’’
The Ravens, as well, gotten some flavorful vengeance all the while.
It was the Titans who took Baltimore out of the end of the playoffs last season as 10-point dark horses, delivering a 14-2 Ravens’ standard season good for nothing.
It, as well, was the Titans deleting a 21-10 lead in November to win 30-24 in additional time in Baltimore, where Tennessee players moved on the Ravens’ logo at midfield.
Along these lines, when the Ravens’ Marcus Peters blocked Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill with 1:50 leftover in the game, he ran to the Titans’ midfield logo, spun the football on it and moved on it with the remainder of his protective colleagues.
“I felt like it was a good time to go ahead and do that, so we did it,’’ Ravens defensive tackle Derek Wolfe said. “It wasn’t a disrespect thing. It was like a team-unity thing. We accomplished something as a team so we went out there and took a little bit of revenge, I guess.’’
At the point when the game was finished, Jackson, rather than remaining on the field for standard postgame handshakes with the adversary, ran off the field, through the passage and into the Baltimore storage space, where he was later granted the game ball by Harbaugh.
Jackson recognized his contempt for what he felt was disregard with respect to the Titans in November and stated, “There was no reason for us to shake hands.’’
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said, “We won the division, hosted a home playoff game. Today it wasn’t good enough.’’
With respect to the Ravens, they have greater plans than essentially winning their first playoff game in quite a while.
“If we win a Super Bowl,’’ Wolfe said, “we’ll be eternal.’’