I understand why the excitement isn’t what it was a season ago.
A season ago, the Baltimore Ravens began the season with a rookie QB, a first year head coach and no expectations; which made a return to the playoffs particularly sweet for fans throughout Charm City.
But entering this season, last year’s run to the AFC Championship Game lead many fans to adopt a “Super Bowl or bust” type motto. Amazingly, the Ravens will be one of just 12 teams who will be alive in the race for the Vince Lombardi Trophy come Monday morning-despite the “I’m not sure they even belong” attitude a number of fans have adopted.
There’s reason for the less than enthusiastic emotions that fans in town have adopted. This Ravens team has been less than overwhelming this season-beating just one playoff team (San Diego in Week 2) en route to clinching a Wild Card berth against the Raiders Sunday in Oakland. The Ravens finished the season with 6 straight losses against teams who qualified for postseason play, and mixed in a loss to the Steelers-who will miss the playoffs despite posting a record equal to the 9-7 mark the Ravens posted this season. Joe Flacco appeared to regress in his 2nd season, and John Harbaugh made the type of mental mistakes that coaches probably SHOULDN’T make in their second season. The Ravens’ Wide Receivers have been troubling, and their secondary has been terrible at times.
The remarkable thing about all of this is that all of the problems the Ravens have been forced to overcome have happened during a season in which they reached the playoffs for a 2nd straight year for only the 2nd time in franchise history.
There’s a slew of players and coaches around the NFL who aren’t going to be participating in a 2nd straight postseason. The list includes Matt Ryan, Mike Smith, Tony Sparano, Brett Favre, Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Marvin Lewis, Tony Romo, Wade Phillips, Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning, Jeff Fisher, Chris Johnson, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Drew Brees, Sean Payton and John Fox. (Others-like Matt Hasselbeck, Mike Singletary and more will fail to reach even a single postseason over the 24 month span.)
Get the point?
Reaching the postseason in back to back seasons is a MAJOR accomplishment. The Ravens will be able to make money, gain exposure and build on their franchise history over at least the next week if not the next month. It will be remarkably difficult for them to go to Foxborough and beat the Patriots, but they might. Whether or not they do, they will have had an outstanding season.
It doesn’t change the problems this team faces. They will still need to overhaul their receivers in the offseason-but they will be doing it in an offseason where they are coming off a 2nd straight trip to the playoffs. The Steelers can’t say the same thing about their secondary overhaul this offseason.
It’s a big deal.
It’ll be a bigger deal if they’re still alive in 7 days.
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