I hope you got a good look at the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
Did you have your thinking cap on, or were you too busy checking the scoreboard every few minutes to see how your fantasy football team was doing?
If you did have your thinking cap on, you might have been thinking the same thing I was as I watched the Broncos meander through a listless, heartless effort: “man, I’m sure glad the Ravens don’t produce these kinds of stinkers…”
The John Harbaugh era in Baltimore has been successful on a variety of fronts, but one bullet-point stands out as perhaps his biggest accomlishment. His team never lays down on the road.
Think about it. Since he took over in 2008, the Harbaugh-led Ravens have won in New England, Nashville, San Diego, New York, Dallas, Houston, Pittsburgh, Oakland and Miami.
Even last January when the Ravens got slapped around by the Colts, there was never once a smell of give-up in the 3rd or 4th quarter.
Under Harbaugh, I can think of only one game – one – where it looked like the Ravens went through the motions and that was a thorough thrashing in Indianapolis during 2008 when Marvin Harrison torched Chris McAlister in a 31-3 Colts romp.
Every other game in the Harbaugh era featured a representative effort.
In all fairness, even in the occasional down year under Brian Billick, the Ravens weren’t prone to the give-up game before Harbaugh arrived. I can remember a game at Chicago a few years back during Ray’s “mysterious injury season” when #52 hobbled off during a bad-beat at rainy Soldier Field and it really looked like the rest of the team threw in the towel at that point. There was a hammering in the playoffs at Pittsburgh in 2001 when everyone sort of went through the motions in the second half. But even under Billick – and this COULD be a testament to Ray Lewis more than anyone or anything else – there weren’t many games where we watched it and thought, “holy cow, they’ve given up.”
Over the last few years, I’ve seen a bunch of teams come in to M&T Bank Stadium and wander around in a fog like Ray Babbitt from Rain Man. It’s one thing to go on the road and lose. That happens a lot to most teams. It’s another thing to show up, get run over in the first couple of series’, and then pull a Roberto Duran and yell “no mas” at the end of the first quarter. That’s happened a ton in the Harbaugh era. Oakland, Cleveland, Denver (twice), Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia have all come to Baltimore and been caught posing.
Yesterday was another example of the visiting team coming to town and pulling a Jenna Jameson. In fact, she probably isn’t quite as easy as the Denver defense was on Sunday.
Thankfully, the Ravens don’t produce many road stinkers like we’ve seen here in the last three years.
That’s what I was thinking yesterday as I watched the Broncos go through the motions.
Win or lose, the Ravens always bring their heart with them.