Four days from the biggest stage of his career, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson on Wednesday called Sunday’s AFC championship against the Kansas City Chiefs “just another game.”
Jackson likened the game featuring Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a “heavyweight matchup” and acknowledged that he expected a “higher-level atmosphere” at M&T Bank Stadium for the city’s first NFL conference championship game in over five decades. But he said he doesn’t “put pressure on myself at all” to deliver the Ravens their first Super Bowl appearance since the 2012 season.
“Just for us to be in this situation, I wasn’t putting pressure on myself,” Jackson said Wednesday. “I’m going into every game the same way, same mindset, just going one play a time ... one game at a time. That’s pretty much been it.”
Inside linebacker Roquan Smith, whose locker isn’t far from Jackson’s at the team facility, said he knows how “excited” the presumptive NFL Most Valuable Player favorite is to follow up on Saturday’s strong showing against the Houston Texans.
“Talking with Jack day in and day out, I just know his mindset, how excited he is ... to show the world exactly who he is, play in and play out, and just the way he’s leading the offense and the things he’s able to do with the football,” Smith said. “And like I’ve always said since I’ve been here, I’m just grateful that I’m playing with him and not against him.”
Coach John Harbaugh, who on Monday called the Ravens a “very determined football team,” likened the team’s mentality to a scene from the 1986 movie “Hoosiers,” when Gene Hackman’s Norman Dale character, a basketball coach, shows his underdog team that its championship game would be played on the same-size court as all the others it’d played on.
“The biggest thing is always the biggest thing,” Harbaugh said. “You want to go play well. ... Your focus is always going to be on playing your best football game and all the details that go into that, one play at a time.”