Can Lamar Jackson, Ravens Bounce Back After Disappointing AFC Championship Game Loss? ‘Honestly, I Still Haven’t Gotten Over It’

In 2023, the Ravens fell short in the postseason to the Chiefs. Now, they're using that loss to fuel them for 2024. Can they bounce back?

For most of the 2023 season, it looked like the Baltimore Ravens were a juggernaut that would surely compete for a Super Bowl.

However, they fell just short in the AFC Championship Game when the Kansas City Chiefs eliminated them, going on to win the big game themselves.

Months later, Lamar Jackson and other Ravens players have mentioned they still haven’t gotten over the loss. For Jackson and the rest of the Ravens, they hope to use the loss to fuel them in 2024.

Ravens Motivated By AFC Championship Loss

“Now,” said Jackson when asked how long it took for him to turn the page on their playoff defeat. “I believe that just motivated us throughout the whole offseason. People are still talking about it; us players still talk about it.”

“It definitely left a bitter taste in our mouths just being that close,” Jackson added. “We worked so hard in getting there, and [we] didn’t do what we wanted to do, didn’t fulfill our dream; [there’s] definitely a little chip on our shoulder.”

Jackson threw for 272 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in the AFC Championship loss to the Chiefs. There was also a crucial end zone fumble by wide receiver Zay Flowers that took away what would have been a touchdown.

The story of the game was the Ravens’ mistakes that ended their 13-win season.

“I believe we were driving the ball down the field — not how we wanted to — but we drove the ball down the field,” said Jackson. “We just have to put points on the board. We had two costly turnovers in the red zone — the game would’ve been different.”

“Honestly, I still [haven’t] gotten over it,” said Flowers. “I still think about it. But I know next year, we have a chance to get back there and try to make it to the Super Bowl, so that’s why I’m working every day and going hard every day to get back to that moment.”

Did the Ravens Get Better This Offseason?

Following the 2023 season, the Ravens got to work to make sure they have a chance to make another run in 2024.

Their biggest offseason acquisition was former Tennessee Titans superstar running back Derrick Henry. In his eight NFL seasons, Henry has rushed for 9,502 yards and 90 touchdowns.

Most importantly, it gives the Ravens a dominant force at running back, which was a weaker spot for the team last season.

Some other free agency additions include Josh Jones, Chris Board, and Ka’Dar Hollman. They also got deals done with Justin Madubuike, Kyle Van Noy, Malik Harrison, Brent Urban, Arthur Maulet, and Ar’Darius Washington to keep them all in town.

However, the Ravens lost 15 players in free agency to other teams. Some of the more notable losses include Kevin Zeitler, Jadeveon Clowney, Ronald Darby, Gus Edwards, Patrick Queen, Morgan Moses, and Geno Stone, among others. As a result, the Ravens will have to find new players to step up.

MORE: 2024 NFL Playoff Predictor

To help offset some of these losses, the Ravens will need immediate production from their rookie class, most notably first-round pick CB Nate Wiggins and second-round pick OT Roger Rosengarten.

The Ravens appear poised to make another run at competing for a Super Bowl next season, but an already-competitive AFC conference looks stronger than ever.

Baltimore’s Biggest Competition in the AFC

The Chiefs are the class of the AFC, having won the conference in four of the last five years. They are looking to become the first team in NFL history to three-peat as Super Bowl champions.

But the Ravens’ competition in the AFC goes well beyond the defending champions.

The AFC North alone features two other playoff teams from last season in the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the Cincinnati Bengals could be the Ravens’ biggest threat in winning the AFC North again. After an injury-riddled 9-8 season, the Bengals look poised for a bounce-back season with a healthy Joe Burrow under center.

Outside of the AFC North, the conference as a whole is deep with talented teams across the board. After the Ravens beat them in the Divisional Round last year, quarterback C.J. Stroud and the Houston Texans are hoping to improve upon last season. The Texans were one of the biggest surprise playoff teams a year ago, and they reloaded their roster this offseason, most notably with the addition of receiver Stefon Diggs.

Meanwhile, as long as Josh Allen is their quarterback, the Buffalo Bills can never be fully counted out, and the Miami Dolphins return an offensive unit that took the league by storm last season.

But the Ravens’ competition in the AFC extends beyond the playoff teams from last season. The New York Jets should be much improved with Aaron Rodgers returning from a torn Achilles, and the Los Angeles Chargers could return to the postseason with Jim Harbaugh now leading the way as the franchise’s new head coach.

KEEP READING: Breaking Down the Baltimore Ravens’ 2024 Schedule

While the Ravens are still viewed as the biggest threats to the Chiefs in the AFC, they’re one of many teams in a highly competitive conference capable of making a Super Bowl run this season.

It might be unfair to say they missed their window, but the Ravens blew a golden opportunity last season as the No. 1 seed with home-field advantage.

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