Ravens' memorable 2019 season spoiled by early playoff exit

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Baltimore Ravens offensive guard Patrick Mekari (65) leaves the field after an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Tennessee Titans, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Baltimore. The Titans won 28-12. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

OWINGS MILLS, MD – As top-seeded Baltimore approached its playoff opener last week, linebacker Josh Bynes was asked to compare the current edition of the Ravens to the Super Bowl champions of 2012.

Bynes, who played 10 games for the 2012 champs, replied, “That team is special, and this team is special. But we won a Super Bowl back then. We haven't won anything yet. We're having a great season, but if you don't win it all, what does it matter?"

The 2019 Ravens went 14-2, the best regular season in franchise history, earned a No. 1 seed for the first time, and received a record-breaking performance from second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson. They had 12 players picked to the Pro Bowl, tying a record, and five All-Pros.

All of that is noteworthy, but those associated with this team will always remember the one-and-done outing in the playoffs.

Less than 24 hours after a 28-12 loss to Tennessee on Saturday night, Bynes and his teammates began an offseason that arrived far sooner than expected by somberly clearing out their lockers. After winning 12 straight to finish with the best record in the NFL, the Ravens' first loss since late September sent them packing for home.

“This game is going to be the one that we’ll remember because it’s the last one," coach John Harbaugh said. “I told them, in the end, there’s only one team that gets to be the one true champion — and that’s not going to be us this year."

Jackson set an NFL record for yards rushing by a quarterback (1,206) and led an offense that compiled more yards on the ground (3,296) than any in league history. He's got a great shot at being NFL MVP, but Jackson won't be taking home a Super Bowl ring. Although he accounted for more than 500 yards in offense against the Titans, Jackson committed three turnovers and was twice stuffed on fourth-and-1 runs.

And now he's 0-2 in the playoffs.