Ravens Face Toughest Test Yet…Again Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens

Street Talk Ravens Face Toughest Test Yet…Again

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The Ravens face their toughest test to date this week against the San Francisco 49ers.

Where have we heard that before?

That was the same sentiment leading up to games against Seattle, New England and Los Angeles. 

The Ravens beat all three of those teams by double-digits.

San Francisco could provide a tougher matchup. The 49ers are 10-1 and ranked No. 1 in total defense, allowing 248 yards per game.

But the Seahawks, Patriots and Rams also had gaudy stats before being demolished by the Ravens.

The key for Baltimore has been its ability to stay even-keeled throughout the recent seven-game winning streak — the longest in the NFL.

“I mean it’s good for this week, but next week it doesn’t give you anything – you get one win no matter how many you win by,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said following a 45-6 victory over the Rams. “But, the fact that we’re playing so well from one week to the next is, to me, an indication of how hard the guys are working and how focused they are. 

“But they know next week’s a new week. We have a great opponent coming up – San Francisco. These guys are the best team in football, they’re playing at the highest level right now. Nobody’s crowned like I said. There’s no best team in football right now. February’s when they make that decision.”

The Ravens, however, are not just beating teams. They’re leaving them shell-shocked. The Rams players didn’t know what hit them moments following their drubbing on national television.

Safety Eric Weddle spent three seasons in Baltimore before signing with the Rams this offseason. Even he was surprised at the Ravens’ point of attack.

At one point, Weddle admitted he didn’t even know which Ravens player was carrying the ball.

“I’m at a loss for words. I never thought in a million years we’d get completely destroyed,” he said.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson had another stellar game, completing 15 of 20 passes (75.0 percent) for 169 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions for a 139.4 passer rating. He earned his fourth nomination for FedEx Air Player of the Week. 

Jackson’s performance and leadership have been the key to this season’s success. He is a leading candidate for NFL MVP, not that he cares.

“It was impressive. When you sit there and you watch and you feel the operation up close and personal, and you just see just how sharp they are with their execution – what a dynamic playmaker he is – what a good job they do of creating conflict right before the snap, changing your fits,” Rams coach Sean McVay said.  “And then, on third down, they were really impressive – just his operation, his ability to be able to find some completions, make plays with his legs. There is a reason why people are talking about him as an MVP, it felt like it tonight.”

While the Ravens have gotten most of the attention for lighting up the scoreboard, the defense has also played a key role in the team’s resurgence. After some early struggles, Baltimore is now ranked 11th in the league in total defense. The Ravens are ranked sixth with a +8 turnover differential. 

However, the defense is quick to credit the offense and vice versa.

“We’re just playing good team ball – offense, defense and special teams right now,” linebacker Matt Judon said. “Like I say every week and every time I talk, but we’re doing our job. Our job is to get the offense off the field as fast as possible and get the ball back to our offense. Everybody is amazed at what ‘A’ can do and we love it too. It kills the clock. 

“The whole offensive line, running backs, receivers, tight ends, they kill the clock. I think G-Ro (Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman) is doing a great job. Our offense is doing a great job marching down the field. As long as we can continue to get three-and-outs or hold them with no points, we love it.”

The Ravens have found a winning formula, but now, there is no margin for a letdown with so many goals within their reach. 

It’s clear the players and coaches understand. 

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich

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