Almost everyone expected the Ravens to make it to the AFC championship game last season. That includes the Ravens, too, apparently.
In an interview released Tuesday on Complex’s “Load Management” podcast, Lamar Jackson said his focus for the 2020 season was on winning Week 1. Why?
“We’re taking it one game at a time, not peeking ahead,” the “Madden NFL 21” cover athlete said. “That’s what happened in the playoffs, and we end up losing to the team people had us favored over.”
The Ravens were 10-point favorites and had won 12 straight games entering their AFC divisional-round playoff game against the Tennessee Titans. But Jackson threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, and Titans running back Derrick Henry ran for 195 yards in a stunning 28-12 upset loss at M&T Bank Stadium.
“It’s any given Sunday,” Jackson said on the podcast. “You can’t underestimate no team, no opponent, and that’s what we did. So I’m looking forward to this 2020 season. ...
“Don’t underestimate your opponents. They caught us surprise. That’s all it was.”
Jackson said that even after a regular season in which he was named Most Valuable Player and led the NFL with 27 touchdown passes from the pocket, he’s not surprised by the criticism he receives.
He recalled how, when he was as young as 7 or 8 years old in South Florida, grown-ups watching him play football were calling him “sorry as [expletive]" and telling him, “You suck at this.” Jackson said he’s resigned to the fact that even Michael Jordan and LeBron James are “still getting hate to this day.”
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“Those people probably want to be in your shoes," he said of his critics. "They’re going to run their mouth regardless, you know? Sometimes you punch somebody in the mouth and they’re probably going to still talk, so it is what it is.”