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Whatâ€™s up with all this nonsense that the Ravens laid down on Thursday Night? One well known sports talk personality in town fell just short of a meltdown over the Ravens 13-7 loss to the Bengals and now he thinks that the Ravens might not even win the AFC North.
Turn down the volume and relax!
Not to make excuses for the Ravens but they were working on a very short week. Now some might be quick to point out that the Bengals had just as short of a week as the Ravens. But actually thatâ€™s not true.
Mondays in the NFL are normally set aside for reviewing game film from the just completed game on Sunday and for massage therapy, cold tubs, etc. Tuesdays are usually off days for the players. Not so this week.
This week the players had a walk through on Tuesday and then the same on Wednesday. Keep in mind that on Wednesday players are just beginning to work out the soreness of the previous game. Instead, the Ravens had to pack and board their plane for Cincinnati after a brief morning walk through. Even all you weekend warriors who play in flag football leagues must realize that the soreness takes a while to work out. How many of you go into your offices on Wednesday, sit in your chair and the tightness grips your legs and shoulders?
Now imagine the violence of the NFL and project the discomfort.
So the Ravens packed their bags and begrudgingly made their way on to the charter flight after airport security checked them down at Owings Mills prior to boarding the bus for BWI.
They get into Cincinnati, check in, lay around and do whatever it is that they do prior to a game.
Now the Bengals on the other hand arenâ€™t taken out of their comfort zone plus they have an extra day to install a game plan. You might think that isnâ€™t much but when you consider how little time both teams had between games, that extra full day can be an advantage.
Look at it this way. Brian Billick has been paying very close detention to detail now that he has the reins of the offense. Each player is asked to understand his role on each play regardless of his primary or subordinate involvement in the play. That requires time on the field and time in the classroom — time the Ravens didnâ€™t have this week.
Did the offense fail? Absolutely. Should they have tested the leagueâ€™s worst pass defense more? I donâ€™t think Brian Billick would deny that for a second. But they didnâ€™t and they lost. You move on.
But to say the Ravens defense laid down is an injustice to that defense. When you only allow the Bengals 13 points and 294 net yards of offense on their home field when theyâ€™ve averaged 34 points and 439 yards respectively over the prior three games, sorry Mr. Self Appointed Vice President of All Things Dundalk, that is not â€œlaying down!â€
If Brian Billick has proven anything during his tenure as the Ravens head coach, he has shown that he can manage his club during adverse times when his locker room is fully engaged and the players share a singularity of purpose. Back in 2000 the team lost three consecutive games while in the grips of a scoring slump that kept the team from the end zone for 21 consecutive quarters. We all know what happened at the end of that season.
The Ravens are also a bit tired which is why Brian Billick wisely gave his team five consecutive days off. The Ravens are depending upon a few rookies to perform going forward. Maybe this down time helps to soften that rookie wall. Maybe Billick is handling Week 14 much like he would a bye week given the time between games. And for the record, Billick has won 5 straight after byes.
If this team did not have the character that it does, then Baltimore we might have a problem. But the 2006 Ravens are rich in character and when the team reconvenes on Wednesday, they will begin installing a complete game plan. Each player will individually begin to embrace their respective roles on each play the way they have since Billick assumed the responsibilities of offensive coordinator.
There are four weeks to go in the regular season and as weâ€™ve seen so far this season, there are many ebbs and flows with more to come, not only with the Ravens but other teams as well. Who knows what the Chargers might do in Buffalo. By the way, thereâ€™s a 70% chance of snow showers in the winter wonderland of Upstate New York.
Unlike the snow in Buffalo, the sky isnâ€™t falling here in Baltimore contrary to the opinion of a few. The Ravens are 9-3 and two games ahead of the Bengals in the AFC North. Back in August, Iâ€™m sure even the self appointed VP of Dundalk would have been ecstatic over the promise of such a possibility.
Today that is the Ravens reality.
And soon the "P Word" and the AFC North Division Title will be as well.