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The Blame Game: Did Lamar Jackson Fail The Ravens In The AFC Championship?

Many called Sunday's AFC Championship game at M&T Bank Stadium the biggest in team history.

Others tabbed it the most critical game in determining Lamar Jackson's legacy. But when the dust settled, it was none other than Patrick Mahomes and company advancing to Super Bowl LVIII.

It was an ugly 17-10 loss for the Ravens, who shot themselves in the foot by fumbling away a handful of possible game-changing opportunities. Despite Baltimore's mishaps, the bottom line is that Andy Reid's staff outclassed Baltimore, and the Kansas City players executed at a much higher level.

Sure, Lamar Jackson could have played much more efficiently. He certainly held onto the ball way too long when Charles Omenihu chopped it out of his hands early in the second quarter.

But there were plenty of variables way beyond his control. Sometimes, the cape alone isn't enough for Superman to save the world.

Jackson couldn't control Zay Flowers' trio of mental lapses, including a game-changing fumble into the Kansas City end zone. He couldn't control the countless idiotic defensive penalties that the Ravens accrued in the second half, as the defense was truly rattled for the first time this season.

And if Jackson is Superman, then Patrick Mahomes is his kryptonite, and he proved to be Superman's Achilles' heel on Sunday. But in all fairness, No. 15 is everyone's kryptonite.

Finally, Jackson surely couldn't negate the ineptness of Ravens' offensive coordinator Todd Monken on Sunday. What on Earth was that game plan?

There is no doubt that Steve Spagnuolo has done an excellent job with the Kansas City defense, and these two units were arguably the best defenses in the NFL this season. Kansas City plays a ton of single-high-man coverage, and they've been fantastic against air attacks this season. But that's not a reasonable excuse for Baltimore's pathetic offensive approach.

The Chiefs' defense has been vulnerable on the ground all season, which should have made Sunday an elite opportunity to game plan around for the Baltimore offense. According to Fantasy Points, the Chiefs allowed the 11th-most adjusted rushing yards before contact this season. And it didn't take a rocket scientist to investigate how James Cook and the Bills' ground game blasted this same defense two weeks ago.

Baltimore ran the ball at a league-high 49% clip this season, but it came out against Kansas City and inexcusably tallied just THREE early-down running-back runs in the first half. The game script can't be a scapegoat either, as the game was well within reach for its entirety.

Baltimore averaged north of 28 points per game this season and decided to abandon the run and derail the train that earned them the opportunity to host the first AFC Conference Championship in M&T Bank Stadium history.

Conductor Jackson could only fabricate so much offense to make up for the complete incompetence of Monken and head coach Jim Harbaugh. It's borderline negligible and should be a fireable offense.

Jackson now faces similar criticism as AFC foe Josh Allen. Neither can seem to out-duel Mahomes, who has reached four Super Bowls and the AFC Championship in each of the six years that he's been in the league. Jackson and Allen are great, but Mahomes is on a tier of his own. And to make it a tougher task for any AFC rival to knock off Kansas City, Mahomes has a perfect football marriage with head coach Andy Reid – one of the greatest all-time offensive minds.

Jackson was swimming upstream in a total riptide on Sunday. He was alone in the water while the lifeguards were seemingly off duty. Before pointing the finger at Jackson during the offseason, let's remember that his coaches set him and the Ravens up to fail miserably in the 2023 AFC Championship game.


Read more NFL news from Stadium Rant here: NFL News


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