Either way, the Ravens will need their offense to produce points and the defense to pressure Dalton and keep close track of Bengals wideouts in the secondary if they want to complete a 6-0 mark in the division and realize their optimum playoff positioning.
The plan isn’t rocket science, but the troubling evidence collected in their four road losses is impossible to ignore. At some point, what you first considered to be an anomaly becomes the expected result when it keeps happening over and over again.
Will the Ravens do anything differently this week to prepare for this road game?
“I think we’ve got a good routine,” Harbaugh said. “It’s proven [and] we’re going to try to play better than we have in games we didn’t win on the road. That’s the main thing. Obviously, turnovers were a big factor in some of those games, like any games in the National Football League.”
In fairness to the criticism thrown at the Ravens regarding their road struggles, critics conveniently forget their biggest win of the season came in Pittsburgh when quarterback Joe Flacco orchestrated a 92-yard touchdown drive in the closing seconds to beat the Steelers, 23-20. To take care of the Bengals, the Ravens may not need the same drama, but they’ll need similar poise and play from Flacco, who will need to find more production in the passing game than he did last week with Boldin on the sidelines.
As challenging as it looks, the Ravens are capable of getting the job done against a Bengals team without any winning pedigree to stand on. There’s no telling how Dalton, Green, and their other young players will respond to pseudo-playoff stakes they haven’t experienced before. The Ravens have a golden ticket to make their path to the Super Bowl shorter and easier than the ones they’ve attempted to travel over the last three seasons.
“That’s kind of what I want to keep the guys always honed in on is that opportunities come few, they come very few,” Lewis said. “But I think right now, we have the team that understands that.”
Understanding is one thing, but actually doing it is another. Perhaps after their many road woes this season, the Ravens will finally respond the way they need to.
Even if there are too many signs pointing in the wrong direction.