As the Ravens eyed quarterbacks in the lead-up to the 2018 draft, the scouting department took a particular liking to a player in the mold of then-Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
Coach John Harbaugh said Monday that he studied Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, whom the Ravens will play on the road in Saturday night’s divisional-round playoff game, and that the team “really liked him.”
“I watched him a lot, actually. He’s a guy that most of us here really really liked,” Harbaugh said on his weekly conference call. “Just the arm talent and the athleticism and the strength; he’s a big, strong guy. Then you heard about his story, I really liked his story, what he overcame to get to where he was at; kind of came up the hard road and underestimated road. We always kind of like those kinds of guys, for sure.
“I had a chance to talk to him a few times outside football, at least one time outside of football since he’s been with the Bills. I just think he’s a great guy, great young man. Tough competitor, this guy’s a real competitor. We did look at him and we really liked him.”
Allen, who played at Mountain West Conference member Wyoming, was a polarizing prospect entering the draft. Some analysts questioned Allen’s accuracy and the level of competition he played against at Wyoming, while others overlooked it and were drawn to his big arm and mobility. Buffalo ultimately selected Allen with the No. 7 overall pick after trading up from No. 12, the third of five quarterbacks taken in the first round, while the Ravens selected Lamar Jackson at No. 32 after executing a trade to slip back into the first round.
The selections have proved transformative for both franchises. Jackson, the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player, has led the Ravens to three consecutive playoff appearances. And in Sunday’s 20-13 win over the Tennessee Titans in the wild-card round, the Ravens captured their first postseason victory since 2014, along with the first of Jackson’s career.
Allen, who broke the Bills’ single-season passing yards record, led Buffalo to a 27-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, the franchise’s first playoff win since 1995. Sunday’s meeting will be just the second meeting between the two young stars as starters. Jackson bested Allen in Buffalo in Week 14 of the 2019 season, a 24-17 Ravens win.
Ravens should be healthy vs. Bills; Buffalo RB out for rest of playoffs
Cornerback Jimmy Smith, wide receiver Willie Snead IV, center Patrick Mekari and outside linebacker Yannick Ngakoue all returned to the lineup for the Ravens’ wild-card-round game and Harbaugh expects the team should have a similar clean bill of health against the Bills.
“We got out of it well. There was nothing out of it there that looks like it’s major and everything looks like we should have everybody for next week,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh said Smith, who missed three straight games with injuries to his ribs and shoulder, was dealing with a “very painful injury” and “fought through some pain out there.”
Wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown briefly left Sunday’s game but later said he was just dealing with cramps.
Bills rookie running back Zack Moss, who injured his ankle against the Colts, will miss the remainder of the postseason, according to multiple reports. Moss rushed for 481 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season. Buffalo will likely turn more to Devin Singletary, who rushed for a team-high 687 yards in the regular season.
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