The Baltimore Ravens are set to take on the Los Angeles Rams in a must-win Week 17 matchup to keep their playoff hopes alive, but they’ll have Rams star defenders Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey standing in their way.
In the days leading up to the game, Donald and Ramsey have both publicly stated their desire to exact revenge for a 2019 blowout in Los Angeles that ended with a 45-6 Ravens victory. Despite having Donald and Ramsey, two of the NFL’s best at their respective positions, the Rams defense had no answers for a now-injured Lamar Jackson, who finished with six touchdowns, or now-New Orleans Saint Mark Ingram, who ran for 111 yards on just 15 carries.
Donald told media on December 30 that he had discussed the 2019 loss during meetings with his fellow defensive linemen this week, per ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry.
“That’s in the back of my head,” he said, “That’s a little fire that’s lit under me.”
Then, on December 31, Ramsey made clear that he had not forgotten the 2019 game when a reporter mistakenly thought that Ramsey hadn’t played the Ravens before, per Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Sun.
“We got blown out in , y’all remember that?” he said, “That was crazy, right?”
Ramsey was clearly upset at the result of the 2019 matchup at the time, getting into a spat with Ravens All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters, who had just been traded by the Rams a few weeks prior.
Though Peters is still sidelined with a preseason ACL tear, Ramsey still appears to be especially motivated to beat the Ravens, repeatedly saying that he “isn’t going to forget” the 2019 loss.
2021 Matchup Is Nothing Like 2019
But the Ravens’ January 2, 2021 matchup with the Rams will be very different than their 2019 meeting in several ways.
The Ravens will have home-field advantage this time, but they are expected to be without Lamar Jackson due to an ankle injury that has held him out for the Ravens’ last two games.
Jackson briefly returned to practice in a limited capacity on December 29 – albeit with a noticeable limp – but has not practiced since. He’s officially listed as questionable, but Shaffer tweeted before the game that there is “no sign of Lamar Jackson (ankle) warming up on the field.”
The Ravens, meanwhile, activated backup quarterback Tyler Huntley from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on December 30, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.
Huntley started against the Green Bay Packers in Week 15 and kept pace with Aaron Rodgers all game, with the Ravens falling just short of converting a game-winning two-point attempt at the end of the game. But he tested positive for COVID-19 just before the Ravens’ Week 16 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, forcing recently-signed veteran quarterback Josh Johnson to start instead.
Akers Won’t Return vs. Ravens
The Rams also sparked interest around the league when running back Cam Akers returned to practice less than six months after tearing his Achilles.
Akers was a full participant in practice all week, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on January 2 that Akers would not take the field in Baltimore. The second-year back is officially listed as questionable on the Rams’ injury report, but with a playoff spot all but secured, Los Angeles is likely taking the cautious route with Akers after his speedy recovery.