The Ravens’ 38 points Sunday against the Lions was their highest output of the season. Lamar Jackson’s 357 passing yards were the second-most of his career, and he produced a near-perfect passer rating of 155.8. And Baltimore’s defense shut down a Detroit team that was averaging 28 points, 383.7 yards and had scored at least 20 points in 15 straight games.
Yet, quarterback Lamar Jackson, who on Wednesday was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week, didn’t so much as crack a smile afterward, a demeanor that, to a man, seems to have carried over this week as the Ravens (5-2) prepare to play the Cardinals (1-6) on Sunday in Arizona.
The Ravens, at least publicly, don’t appear to be bathing in their own press clippings, to borrow a phrase from basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton. Of course, that’s what happens when you have a team that beat the Bengals in Cincinnati in Week 2 only to lose at home the following week to the Indianapolis Colts. The Ravens also blew out the Browns in Cleveland in Week 4, only to surrender a double-digit lead against the Steelers in Pittsburgh the following week.
Even Sunday’s 38-6 dismantling of the Lions wasn’t without at least one mishap, notably a fumble by Jackson on an exchange with running back Justice Hill.
Now they’ll face a lowly Cardinals team that has lost four straight and is averaging just 18.1 points per game. Is it a trap?
“I believe you have a trap game or something like that when you get complacent or [are] thinking, ‘OK we just beat this team 30-something to 6, so we’re not worried about this team,’” Jackson said Wednesday. “I believe that’s when that stuff pops into your brain, but I don’t believe our guys are like that.”
Unsurprisingly, that includes the guy in charge.
“We talk to them along those lines,” said coach John Harbaugh, who added that unlike Alabama coach Nick Saban he didn’t have any “clever” rat poison comments for his players.
“We had a good game last week. We have to have the best game we can have this week against a completely different defense, completely different situation. We’re on the road. All those things change. That’ll be our goal. The mission is to keep trying to have a good game from week to week and overarchingly try to improve and get better at all the little things you do.”
His players seem to have gotten the message.
“Right now, we’re just chasing to be consistent,” Jackson said. “We had a couple games where we were good, then the next week it was like, what’s going on with the offense?”
Added wide receiver Rashod Bateman: “I gotta think we make this a bigger deal than it needs to be. We had a good game on Sunday and I think we just turn the page and focus on the Cardinals.”
Many of the usual cliches flowed throughout the locker room.
One game at a time. There’s a lot of football left. Any given Sunday anybody can win.
That’s especially true of Jackson, whose 16-1 mark against the NFC is the best record against an opposing conference since 1970. And he’s coming off a game in which he became just the fourth player in NFL history to record 350 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, one rushing score and finish with a passer rating of 150 or better.
Still, when Jackson was presented with the lion spike by Harbaugh following the win over Detroit, he simply took it and walked back to his locker with nothing in the way of celebration.
As for facing the Cardinals?
“You come out and treat them the way you treated all the other games,” cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. “The thing about a one-win team [is] they’re hungry for that second win or a winless team, so they’re going to come out [and] play hard, we just have to play a little bit harder.”
Added tight end Mark Andrews: “We know the type of team that they are. This is going to be a good game. For us, it’s about doing our job — doing everything that we can during this week. Every week’s a new challenge. Every week’s going to provide something different, so it’s just about handling that, being ourselves and continuing to grow to become the team that we want to be.”
Indeed, the Ravens have struggled to take that next step and string together consistent strong performances in games they’re expected to win, though Jackson did note their victory over the Tennessee Titans in London was followed by Sunday’s win against the Lions. Now comes the opportunity for a third straight.
“I believe we’re going in the right direction,” Jackson said. “We need to keep going.”
Ravens at Cardinals
Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM
Line: Ravens by 8 1/2