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Instant analysis: Top-seeded Ravens upset by Titans, 28-12, in divisional round

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh on the 28-12 loss to the Tennessee Titans and the performance of quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Here’s what The Baltimore Sun sports staff thought immediately after the Ravens’ 28-12 divisional-round loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Daniel Oyefusi, reporter: Just like that, after the Ravens’ best regular season in franchise history, their Super Bowl bid is over. One game, that’s all it takes in the NFL playoffs. The Ravens’ stunning 28-12 defeat to the sixth-seeded Titans will once again bring up a multitude of questions, including whether the Ravens were right to rest multiple starters and Lamar Jackson’s viability as a winning quarterback. But the Ravens ran into a buzz saw in running back Derrick Henry and the Titans, getting fully outplayed at home. It can happen to anyone, even the AFC’s No. 1 seed that many were penciling in to the Super Bowl. With a young core and more cap flexibility than in recent years, this won’t be the last we hear of Jackson and the Ravens. Still, after all the fun this season provided Baltimore and the entire league, Saturday night’s loss felt like a big missed opportunity.

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Jonas Shaffer, reporter: A disaster of a night like this is hard to comprehend, but the most basic explanation is probably the best: The Ravens were a team built to win on the margins, not come back from big deficits. When you throw in an uncharacteristic night of mistakes from Lamar Jackson, just enough injuries to affect the game plan and the fantastic Derrick Henry, you get upsets like this. Even Saturday, Jackson showed that he’s improved by leaps and bounds since his rookie year. But he and coach John Harbaugh will have to wait another year to change the narrative about this franchise.

Childs Walker, reporter: The words shocking defeat don’t really capture the punch this loss delivered to an entire city. The Ravens were the best team in football for 16 games this season. But they won’t be remembered that way because the Titans were bolder, more physical and more precise on a single evening in January. That’s the way it works in professional sports; endings matter the most. The loss will particularly haunt quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has played below his standards in both his career playoff games. Jackson’s receivers dropped passes, and his offensive line did not play well. The Ravens defense could not tackle superstar running back Derrick Henry. But with Jackson’s galactic talent comes a disproportionate burden, and he’ll spend the next year facing questions about whether he can win games in January. The Ravens have much to look forward to in 2020, with a likely MVP quarterback, an excellent overall roster and an accomplished coaching staff. They’ll be picked to win many games and return to the playoff dance. But until this group wins in the postseason, it will be defined by this massive disappointment.

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