The Baltimore Ravens were the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, but experience trumped the odds.
The Ravens, led by two-time MVP Lamar Jackson, put up a dud in their most important game of the year, and their season ended abruptly.
Instead, the Kansas City Chiefs remain the kings of the AFC, reaching their fourth Super Bowl in five years.
Baltimore went 13-4 in the regular season, clinching the No. 1 seed, but was unable to make the Super Bowl in Las Vegas.
Members of the Ravens, including Kyle Hamilton and Kyle Van Noy, still made the trip to Vegas for media rounds rather than gearing up for the big game.
Hamilton said his look back on the season has been positive.
“I’ve been here two days. I’ve done a lot of media. It’s the same question,” Hamilton told Fox News Digital in a recent interview. “But I think it’s something to look back on and be proud of, for sure.
“Obviously, we didn’t get the result that we wanted, but we were in the final four of 32 teams that all thought they were gonna win the Super Bowl before the season. To actually be one game away, play in a game where I feel like we could have and should have won, it goes to show what we’ll start out as next year.
“It’s something to build off of. We’ve been there, and hopefully next year we’ll get over the hump.”
Van Noy is a two-time Super Bowl champion, so it’s not surprising he was a bit more blunt.
“I’ve been pretty butthurt about this game. I left my house for the first time on Tuesday, so it was a whole week since I left the house,” says Van Noy. “It’s kind of disappointing, because I’ve been in that last game, and I know we have one of the best teams I’ve ever been on. And I feel like we choked.
“It’s unfortunate. It sucks. I hate talking about it, but it’s facts. You gotta live with it and move on.”
Deep down, Van Noy sees the positive, just like his All-Pro teammate Hamilton.
“I think it was awesome. I had a chance to play with such a fun, talented group that I enjoyed going to work every day. It’s not like that all the time, but the group we had was special. We were the best defense in the league.
“But we just didn’t do it in a game that mattered the most in one quarter.”
Van Noy signed with the Ravens in late September originally to join their practice squad. He then set a career-high with nine sacks. While his future in Baltimore in uncertain, he’s confident the team will be fine with or without him.
“I’m excited for the future of the Ravens,” he said. “To me, they have the best core in the NFL with young players that are cemented. … They’re gonna be good for years to come.”