Maturing Ravens have learned how to “finish”

The Ravens have a good record this year as we all know at 8-2. Normally in years past, when the Ravens make the playoffs, people would compare them to the 2000 Ravens all the time. Well funny enough, it is safe to say the comparison doesn’t work out this year in terms of on-field production. There is one thing that is similar to the 2000 Ravens and that is their mental toughness.

Over the years, the Ravens have been an elite team. They have won in many different ways. But this year more than most, they have found a way to win close games. This year alone, the Ravens are 6-1 in games decided by 10 points or less.

25-15 win vs. Cleveland

24-17 win vs. Cleveland

31-30 win vs. New England

13-10 win vs. Pittsburgh

9-6 win vs. Kansas City

31-29 win vs. Dallas

Their only loss in a “close” game came in week 2, 24-23 against the Eagles.

In years past, there was always that one game where the Ravens would look back on and say, “We could have had that one.”

They seem to be learning. That wasn’t always the case.

Let’s go back to 2008, Joe Flacco’s rookie year and John Harbaugh’s inaugural season as an NFL head coach. The Ravens had two games that year that, had they won, could have given them a 13-3 record, but that both resulted in a loss. Both were also at home.

The first game was a controversial 13-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans where Terrell Suggs was called for a slap to the head on quarterback Kerry Collins during the last drive of the game. Collins would eventually throw a TD pass to give the Titans the final lead 13-10.

The second game would be a controversial TD catch by Santonio Holmes of the Steelers in which Big Ben engineered a 90-yard drive down the field in the waning moments. The loss gave Pittsburgh the season sweep over the Ravens, the AFC North title, and forced the Ravens to travel their way in the playoffs and the rest is history.

Let’s note the Ravens had a top-5 defense that year despite having 19 players on IR, which was second most in the NFL at the time.

That being said, the Ravens defense in 2008 was a better unit in general compared to the current defense. But, this defense has an edge over the 2008 defense in one area.

This defense is clutch. They get it done when it matters most as they back up having the top-ranked red zone defense in the NFL.

They made Tom Brady’s Patriots punt when needed, they made game standing drives against the Browns twice and they closed out the Chiefs to name a few. Now, would I take the 2008 Ravens defense over this year’s defense? No, I would not. This is about winning games now and only that. Before, there used to be extra pressure on them to perform because of the development of Joe Flacco and building a new structure with the regime.

While Baltimore was legit on defense in 2008, they didn’t always come through when it mattered. This year they do come through. Ray Rice sees it when he has 20 carries for 40 yards but the team still wins. All the past experiences have shaped the Ravens into what they are today and that is a team that comes through when it matters most.

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