The Baltimore Ravens were handed one of the most difficult assignments in the NFL for their first full-capacity home game since January 2020. Coming off of a heartbreaking loss in Las Vegas in Week 1, the Ravens were tasked with rebounding against one of the most potent offenses in professional football.
What was the mantra for the Ravens during their back-and-forth shootout with the Kansas City Chiefs Sept. 19?
“Don’t flinch,” Ravens rookie defensive back Brandon Stephens said on Glenn Clark Radio Sept. 20. “We knew that they were going to make plays, and so we just kept telling one another, ‘Don’t flinch. We’re still in this.’ All we had to do is stick together, man, and keep going because we knew it was going to be a dogfight.”
Home-field advantage played a role in the Ravens’ late surge to a 36-35 victory, according to Stephens. After Lamar Jackson’s early pair of interceptions seemed to point to another disappointing loss to the Chiefs — Baltimore fell 34-20 to Kansas City in 2020, another prime-time matchup — Jackson’s fourth-quarter heroics sealed a much-needed win with the home crowd looking on.
“The whole game, [the fans] were loud. It really just forced us to communicate even more,” Stephens said. “It just gave us that juice, that energy to play each and every play as if it’s our last. But more than anything it just gave us that juice to just keep going. It really doesn’t get better than that with how electric they were [Sept. 19].”
Home-field advantage has helped the Ravens become one of the most dominant teams in the AFC. Baltimore went 24-8 at home during the last four seasons in which fans could attend games at full capacity (2016-2019).
Stephens, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound defensive back out of SMU, is playing in his first professional season after being taken in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He took over at safety for DeShon Elliott against the Chiefs after the latter left with a concussion. He has also contributed on special teams.
For Stephens, playing in front of such a passionate crowd was a dream come true.
“These are moments I’ve always dreamed of,” Stephens said. “Just being in prime time, playing in front of millions of people and just playing how I know how to play and relying on one another, it’s definitely been surreal.”
The Baltimore faithful were integral to rallying the Ravens to their victory. The win was spearheaded by Jackson’s two late rushing touchdowns, the latter of which was punctuated by a 1-yard read-option scramble that saw Baltimore’s quarterback somersault sideways into the end zone.
Even more important was Jackson’s fourth-and-1 scramble for a game-clinching first down while in Baltimore territory. Stephens knew there was little doubt that the game would be put away.
“I think everybody on the sideline, it was a unanimous decision to go for [the first down]. I didn’t even grab my helmet as if they weren’t going to get the first down,” Stephens said. “Everyone had faith in the offense with whoever was going to get the ball. When we saw he got the first down, everybody’s hands went up.”
For more from Stephens, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox