Ravens earn playoff berth, Falcons lose to Patriots

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens clinched a playoff berth Saturday despite feeling like they were the last to know.

The Ravens beat the Falcons 17-9 in the coldest home game in franchise history, but didn’t seal a playoff berth until 20 minutes into the game. Baltimore (10-5) officially clinches a playoff berth as New England Patriots lose 22-18 to Cincinnati Bengals — in Ravens head coach John Harbaugh’s postgame press release The meeting ends.

When asked what it’s like to make it to the playoffs, Harbaugh replied, “Are we?”

When told the Patriots lost, Harbaugh added, “Well, it feels great. … It might sink later tonight.”

There was no celebration inside the Ravens locker room after the team won. Some players watched the Patriots-Bengals game on television in the equipment room without announcing it to the team.

“Oh, really? That would be awesome,” Ravens center linebacker Roquan Smith replied when asked about Baltimore’s playoff status. “That’s what we play for — to be one of the teams that makes the playoffs. That’s how the Super Bowl chase begins.”

The Ravens are in the playoffs for the fourth time in five years, but this time the playoff berth is different. It marks the first time Baltimore has earned a playoff berth without Lamar Jackson as the starting quarterback since starting with Joe Flacco in 2014.

Jackson has been sidelined since December. 4 with a sprained knee, and the Ravens’ offense continued to struggle without him. In three games without Jackson, Baltimore scored two touchdowns for a total of 36 points.

“We can get better, we need to get better,” Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said. “The playoffs are about doing that.”

Harbaugh said he didn’t think about how winning a playoff berth would affect when Jackson returns. The Ravens next face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 12. 1.

“Players play when they’re healthy and ready to play; that’s all we do,” Harbaugh said. “When the players and the doctors come back and say, ‘Hey, it’s time,’ then [as] Coach, we put him in the game plan.it turned out to be like this [it works]. Thinking about it beyond that is just a waste of energy and time. “

Harbaugh added: “Lamar is working really hard on his recovery. The coaches are working really hard to get him back. I’m optimistic in a lot of ways, but focused on our team and the next game plan we have, really.”

The Ravens’ nine completions — Huntley went 9-for-17 for 115 yards — were the fewest since Harbaugh became a coach in 2008. Baltimore beat Atlanta with its downhill run game and stingy defense.

The Ravens ran for 184 yards, Gus Edwards had 99 yards and JK Dobbins had 59 yards. Baltimore’s defense blocked Atlanta’s fourth attempt at the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter and kept the team without a touchdown for the third time in six games.

However, the Ravens’ offense reached the end zone in the second quarter when Huntley threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to DeMarcus Robinson. It ended a drought of 20 consecutive kickoffs without a touchdown.

“Just scoring a touchdown, period, was like tears of joy,” Huntley said.

Those tears probably froze at M&T Bank Stadium. The kickoff temperature was 17 degrees, two degrees cooler than any home game in Ravens history.

“Unless you’re an ice fisherman, it’s not ideal weather for outdoor activities,” Harbaugh said.

If the Ravens win, they can still claim the AFC North. Their last two games are at home against the Steelers and in the final against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“Today I tweeted: ‘Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a win today,'” said Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Rickard, who was wearing a Ravens Christmas sweater with flashing lights. “He gave me that. It was great.”

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