In an alternate approach to the Baltimore Ravens 2017 trip to London that didn’t end with a win, the coaches decided to spend the week in the UK to see if that made a difference in the team’s performance. By all appearances, their strategy worked with the Ravens pulling off the 24-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
“I believe it was a great decision for us to be out here early, instead of us coming out here last-minute, and then trying to let our bodies cope with what is going on with the atmosphere, this timing and stuff like that. It was a great decision by coaches,” Lamar Jackson said.
“Heck of a week capped off by a really great football game,” Coach John Harbaugh said. “I appreciate the Titans. That’s a tough, hard-nosed, competitive team, well-coached. They played that way today. It was an exciting game. We’re very, very pleased to come away with a win. I’m proud of our guys. I thought our guys fought through a lot of adversity in that game, some controllable, some not. They managed to find a way to close it at the end.”
The score shows a close game but in reality, the Ravens dominated the Titans, taking an early 18-3 lead. While there were concerns with the receivers’ drops in the Steelers game, Jackson got them involved early picking up huge chunks of yards.
The biggest issue was their inability to get points in the red zone. Kicker Justin Tucker accounted for 18 of the Ravens 24 points with six successful field goals. But it could have easily been 42 points if those trips to the red zone were converted to touchdowns.
“We do a great job with driving the ball down the field, but it’s like every time we get there, it’s like we’re just kicking field goals, and then it’s up to ‘Tuck’ [Justin Tucker],” Jackson noted. “But we don’t need that. We have to protect the ball. The biggest emphasis was we caught the ball this week. We drove the ball down the field. We protected it, except for that one interception, but we have to punch it in. That’s going to help our defense out a lot, and they’re doing a great job protecting us.”
“It was pretty cool to feel love from the fans,” Tucker said. “Obviously, this is a place in the world where they love kickers of balls. Being able to put on just a little bit of a show for them was a lot of fun. Our guys did a great job of getting us in position to have those opportunities in the first place.”
The remainder of the Ravens points came from Lamar Jackson’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Zay Flowers. Jackson hit Flowers again for a two-point conversion but it was called back due to an offensive pass interference penalty on Odell Beckham, Jr. Nonetheless, the catch was Flowers first NFL touchdown and it happened on the world stage.
“When I saw that …it’s like the analogy my dad always makes [about] olives,” Harbaugh described. Ever open up an olive jar? And what happens with the olive jar? Do the olives come pouring out? They don’t come out. What do you have to do? You got to get the first one out, right? Once you get the first one out, the rest of them pour out. Hopefully, that was Zay’s first olive, and there will be many more to come.”
“If someone could’ve had the camera on me when [Zay Flowers] scored, you just would’ve seen my whole teeth,” Beckham Jr stated. “We’re all happy for him. Once one person in the receiver room scores, we all feel like we scored. It’s great. I’m just excited for him.”
The momentum of the game began to change in the third quarter when a miscommunication between Jackson and wide receiver Rashod Bateman ended with an interception. A few plays later Kyle Hamilton was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Titans receiver Chris Moore. Shortly after, Derrick Henry rumbled into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown.
It looked like the Titans were on their way to mounting a comeback when Geno Stone turned the game around with a 24-yard interception that he returned to Baltimore’s 44-yard line.
“It was such a big play,” Harbaugh stated. “I mean, you have to make plays. You have to find a way to come up with a sack. You have to get a sack-fumble, knock a ball loose or get an interception. Geno has had a couple big ones so far this year. That was a huge play, you’re right.”
Baltimore is now 4-2 and on top of the AFC North division with the Steelers enjoying a bye week. The Ravens will be back at M&T Bank Stadium next Sunday for another tough matchup against the 4-1 Detroit Lions.