But the Ravens need to have the greater sense of urgency and it has nothing to do with thoughts of what lies ahead in January. Winning for the first time in the month of December and removing the rare stench of losing for a team not used to it are more critical tasks presently than a division title or jockeying for playoff seeding. Those factors will take care of themselves if the Ravens focus on winning one football game.
In short, it’s all about the Ravens regaining their swagger, ranging from Flacco to a defense that’s been wounded physically and mentally. That swagger even includes Harbaugh, whose decision-making has left plenty to be desired in recent weeks. It must begin and end with Sunday’s game in their minds.
“Every Sunday better be an urgency. For us, we dug a hole. We can’t complain — we did it,” said Pollard, who acknowledged how banged up the team is right now. “We pissed this thing away if you want to say. We pissed it away. We as a team have to come together and fix it. Everybody wants to talk about the past; everybody’s talking about what happened earlier in the season. Everybody’s talking about what happened. What happened is us. We are the problem. We have to fix this issue.”
Of course, actions speak louder than words. The Ravens can talk as much as they want about righting the ship or keeping the big picture in mind or taking it one game at a time, but how they perform on Sunday will define them.
Just as it did the last three weeks, which included a last-second loss to hated Pittsburgh, an overtime defeat to neighboring Washington, and their worst home showing in over five years. That’s a lot of disappointment — along with the scrutiny that follows — for even the most battle-tested of teams.
“To some degree, it’s added pressure,” cornerback Cary Williams said. “We just have to continue to get back to what we were doing [and] get back in the groove of things. We’re in a slump, and everybody’s aware of it. We’ve got another challenge this week.”
It’s the only challenge they should be thinking about. What happens between the Steelers and the Bengals earlier in the day on Sunday doesn’t matter — nor does it really affect their own path to the AFC North title, anyway. A Week 17 trip to Cincinnati should be irrelevant in their minds. And the postseason shouldn’t even be on their radar.
The Ravens should only be eating, sleeping, and breathing what it will take to beat the New York Giants on Sunday.
It’s the next chapter in what’s been the most trying season of the Harbaugh era.
“We’ve seen it all this year,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve had injuries, we’ve had adversity, we’ve had exhilaration, and we’ve had great moments. That’s what a season is made of, and the team that navigates all these things the best in the end will be the one true champion. That’s in front of us. That’s what we’re looking to accomplish. So, make no mistake about it; we’re not backing down from that.”
All of that is true, but winning on Sunday is the only task and goal they need right now.
It’s simple, something they’ve done nine other times this season.
And one win will make the elusive big picture more attainable if they can do it.