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The Ravens game against the Browns on Sunday is one that the team would undoubtedly have lost last year. Up until opening day this year in Tampa, the Ravens were unable to win a game on the road for nearly 22 months. Down on the road against a bitter division rival is hardly the type of game that even the most devoted Ravens fan could have hoped to win prior to this season.
That has now changed!
What’s the difference?
It’s spelled S-t-e-v-e M-c-N-a-i-r.
Steve McNair provides hope not only to you and me but more importantly to his teammates. His presence, poise and quiet confidence breeds confidence among his mates in the huddle. The defense now knows that if they can make a game altering play, McNair can finish the job.
It provides for a bounce in the team’s step and that bounce could be the difference between making a block or reaching just far enough to tip a pass. He might even inspire a defender to focus a bit more.
On Sunday, Chris McAlister by his own admission “had my antennae up.” He suspected that the Browns might go to Braylon Edwards in the end zone deep within Ravens’ territory just as they had in the second quarter. He was focused.
Might he have been as locked in and focused if Kyle Boller was the quarterback under center that day? Might Romeo Crennel have simply run the football three times if he knew Kyle Boller was the player the Ravens were counting on to lead the comeback?
You have to think that Crennel’s decision to go for six in some way must have been influenced by the presence of Steve McNair. If Kyle Boller is leading the charge, my bet is that Crennel runs it, takes his three points and builds his lead to 5, a lead that to Kyle Boller would have represented Mount Everest.
With Steve McNair and two minutes on the clock, Crennel may not have been as comfortable with a 5 point lead. So he took the shot and it backfired. But who can blame Crennel? Frye was nearly flawless all day despite facing intense pressure from the Ravens defense. He had pulled off clutch third down conversions despite the surrounding chaos created by the Ravens front seven.
That Ravens comeback as ugly as it may have been at the end of the day, it was a comeback. And that will be in the minds of opposing coaches when they take on the Ravens. It will affect how opponents manage the game during crunch time knowing that the Ravens can comeback and win a game they aren’t supposed to win.
And crunch time is why the Ravens acquired Steve McNair. He is a leader and a warrior and regardless of how he pulls off a win, the only thing that really matters is the win.
Instill confidence in teammates, fear in the hearts of opponents and make plays when the game is on the line. That’s a difference maker and that is Steve McNair.