Twelve Ravens thoughts from wild-card weekend


With the NFL wrapping up its 2021-22 wild-card weekend, I’ve offered a dozen Ravens-related thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The weekend’s most significant Ravens-related development was Joe Hortiz interviewing for the Giants’ general manager opening. The director of player personnel has been an invaluable talent evaluator for two-plus decades and is deserving of a high-profile opportunity, but losing him would be a tough blow for Baltimore’s draft process.

2. Despite failing to capitalize on red-zone opportunities, the Bengals didn’t “Bungle” and secured their first playoff win since the 1990 season when the Ravens didn’t exist, John Harbaugh was coaching at the University of Cincinnati, and Ozzie Newsome was finishing his Hall of Fame playing career. It’s been a minute.   

3. Though missing the playoffs is always disappointing, watching Kansas City blow out Pittsburgh was a reminder of how far the depleted Ravens were from being a serious contender by season’s end. Drafting six spots before a Steelers organization now in need of a quarterback doesn’t hurt.

4. The Ravens certainly won’t miss Ben Roethlisberger and his 19-10 career record against them, but you wonder if Joe Burrow is stepping right into that nemesis role with the way he’s excelled in his second season. Of course, Cincinnati’s been thinking the same about Lamar Jackson for a few years. 

5. It helps throwing to a talent like Ja’Marr Chase, whose 116 receiving yards against Las Vegas was only the fifth-highest total of his rookie season. Chase’s two-game torching of the Ravens is common knowledge, but 266 yards against the Chiefs and 159 against Green Bay reflect some serious prime-time ability.

6. Matthew Judon registered a career-high 12 1/2 sacks in his first year with New England, but the ex-Raven failed to register one in the final five games as the Patriots dropped four, including the wild-card blowout loss to Buffalo in which he played only 22 snaps. A late-season physical concern?

7. My head still hurts thinking about the end of the Dallas-San Francisco game with the Cowboys apparently thinking they had Jackson or Michael Vick at quarterback and a magical way to pause time with that last play call. I can’t imagine Ravens fans’ reaction if Greg Roman did that. 

8. As Baltimore ponders what to do at center with Bradley Bozeman, Ryan Jensen didn’t miss a snap despite being shaken up in Tampa Bay’s win over Philadelphia. The ex-Raven hasn’t missed a game since joining the Buccaneers in 2018 and made the Pro Bowl this season. He’s a good story.

9. Though I initially thought I’d come across a fake tweet seeing Eric Weddle was rejoining the Rams after last playing over two years ago, he played a decent bit Monday despite not making the stat sheet. His football intellect is impeccable, but no one could have seen that comeback unfolding.

10. After joining Tampa Bay last month and playing in the Bucs’ final three regular-season games, Le’Veon Bell didn’t play in the win over Philadelphia. It’ll be something if the ex-Raven returns to the Super Bowl after playing only 11 snaps for the AFC champion Chiefs in last year’s postseason.

11. Ex-Baltimore assistant David Culley always faced an uphill battle with rebuilding — and dysfunctional — Houston, but that didn’t make his dismissal right. Why take the job? There are only 32, and the 66-year-old worked as an NFL assistant for nearly three decades for that opportunity — lousy as it was.

12. Terrell Suggs summarized the weekend nicely, but he didn’t make any mention of the 44-year-old Tom Brady advancing to the divisional round for a ridiculous 17th time in his career. Then again, such an omission isn’t terribly surprising.