June 19, 2024

In the Lamar Jackson era, the Baltimore Ravens might never have a better chance to win the Super Bowl than they had in 2023. On their way to their fourth Super Bowl in five years, the Kansas City Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes ended “what could have been” in devastating fashion, much like so many others before them. In addition to a few other variables, Jackson’s second MVP campaign helped Baltimore emerge as the league’s top team during the regular season. This was intended to be the year, with defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald—a top coaching contender who is currently leading the Seattle Seahawks—and a group of above-average veterans. “Supposed to” doesn’t bring home titles.

Ray Lewis, the legendary linebacker for the Ravens, has seen this show before. Lewis’s Ravens finished 12-4 in 2011 and hosted the AFC Championship Game. With fifteen seconds remaining, Billy Cundiff’s missed field goal would send Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to yet another Super Bowl. Baltimore lost in what would have been Lewis’ final season. In his last season, he would make sure that didn’t happen. Naturally, Lewis and the Ravens made it back to the postseason the following season, ultimately defeating the 49ers from San Francisco to send a legend riding off into the sunset wearing a Super Bowl ring on his finger. Lewis’s career as a Hall of Famer was capped off with his second championship.

Jackson is by no means done with his NFL career. As a passer, he’s arguably at the peak of his ability, and next season, it will be expected that he returns to the top of the AFC. There’s no assurance that the Ravens with Jackson at quarterback get this far again, though, given the absence of Macdonald, streaks of luck, and bad quarterback performance in the AFC North. Lewis discussed what it means for Baltimore to be in the situation that Jackson is in. “It demonstrates that being the focus champion is difficult, but it’s rewarding when you fail and then get back up and try again,” Lewis added.

Just because the odds may start to be stacked against them doesn’t mean they won’t bring a Lombardi Trophy back to Baltimore, just that it becomes less likely. Like so many franchise quarterbacks, championship windows are fleeting. However, Jackson’s prowess and a growing connection with offensive coordinator Todd Monken sparks optimism. If the Ravens can muster up a product close to what Macdonald engineered on the other side of the ball, it will just be a matter of getting hot at the right time.

 

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