Ravens welcome the challenges of Arrowhead

Street Talk Ravens welcome the challenges of Arrowhead

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Intimidated by a deafening stadium packed with raucous, hostile fans?

Uncomfortable leaving their familiar football environment?

For the Baltimore Ravens, it’s unlikely to be any of the above reactions when they take on the Kansas City Chiefs during today’s AFC wild-card playoff game at noisy Arrowhead Stadium.

The Ravens have won six of their nine career road playoff games, winning their lone neutral site game in Super Bowl XXXV.

“I think we’re built that way,” wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. “There’s no better team for it. If you look at the guys in here, everybody has a strong will. Everybody has been through some tough times. There’s no other team built like this team.”

Adversity tends to harden teams.

And a strong will and a lot of confidence are needed to be in heavy supply on the road.

“Teams that don’t play well in the road are usually an emotional team, kind of frontrunners,” linebacker Jarret Johnson said. “We’re not like that. We’re going to go play no matter how loud the crowd is.

“We’re going to deal with it. We’ve got a lot of veteran players. We’ve been to a lot of hostile places. Kansas City is a tough place to play, but it’s just all about playing your technique playing your scheme. It’s still just a football game.”

With the offense slumping lately, the Ravens are likely to lean heavily on their defense again to lead the charge.

“Normally when you play well on the road, you have to have players that can block out distractions,” wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said. “When you have a good defense, that always helps. Offensively, the way this is going, we can’t mess the game up so to speak.”

Led by middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the Ravens are 8-5 in their playoff history since the launch of the franchise in 1996.

Along with the Indianapolis Colts and the Philadelphia Eagles, they’re the only teams to make it to the postseason each of the past three years.

The Raven made it to the AFC championship two years ago, falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers. And they lost in the AFC divisional round last season to the Colts.

“Our mindset is always what it has been,” Lewis said. “We travel well on the road. We play very well on the road, because it’s the way we’re built. A lot of things offensively, defensively and special teams-wise, we’re prepared for, no matter where it is.

“I just like who we are as a team, no matter where we play, whoever we play. It ain’t about being cocky. It’s about being very confident in our ballclub. Our ballclub, right now, has really been battle-tested. So, we’re ready for the playoffs.”

The Ravens clobbered the New England Patriots, 33-14, during the first round of the playoffs last season at Gillette Stadium handing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick their first home playoff defeat.

Then, they lost to the Colts, 20-3, on the road. That bitter defeat has fueled the Ravens’ motivation throughout the offseason and during the regular season.

“I think the adversity that we’ve been through in the playoffs will definitely help us out,” running back Ray Rice said. “We faced tough games, we faced situations, and we’ve played a lot of situational football this year. I think going into the playoffs, you’re going to have situations in the playoffs where you’re going to have to overcome them. I think that’s where our team has an advantage over a lot of guys. We’ve faced a lot of adversity this year, and we still managed to win games.”

In order to prepare for the higher decibels at Arrowhead Stadium, the Ravens piped in artificial crowd noise at practice this week in their indoor practice facility.

They pumped up the volume louder than usual, too.

“I’d put it right up there with our place and with Seattle, the outdoor stadiums that are really loud. Pittsburgh, I’d put it right there with all those places,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Arrowhead Stadium. “It’s a great place to play. It’s very unique, it’s right on top of you, it’s kind of enclosed, an old-style type of configuration, so great tradition there, great playoff tradition there. So, it’ll be exciting.”   


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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors.  More from Aaron Wilson


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