Hey, a win is a win, right?
If you’re one of those people who cling to that theory on Monday (in this case, Tuesday) morning when the Ravens win the day before, I certainly won’t blame you for pulling out the “a win is a win” card today.
I’m going to use it too, in fact.
Monday’s night “thriller” in Cleveland was eerily similar to a #1 seed playing a #16 seed in the NCAA basketball tournament.
The #1 seed ALWAYS wins. They just do.
Occasionally, though, maybe once every 2-3 years, the #16 seed throws a scare into the top dog and hangs around long enough for people to get nervous.
In the end, the #1 seed uses the old “survive and advance” theory as they move on.
On Monday night in Cleveland – make no mistake about it – the Ravens survived…and advanced.
At this stage, I’ll take it.
If you missed the game and wonder who won, just look at our post-game coverage from the locker room. Ray Lewis spoke afterwards. You know we won.
I’m not going to bellyache about the Baltimore offense failing to ignite, again, and scoring only one touchdown against the Browns.
I’m not even going to gripe about Steve Hauschka’s chip-shot miss in the 1st quarter.
And I won’t harp on the fact that three of the six Baltimore wins this year have come against teams (Kansas City and Cleveland) that aren’t ranked in the top 50 of the BCS coaches poll.
This morning as they wake up back in Baltimore, the Ravens are faced with the reality of this: their entire season could be decided in the next two weeks.
And the Browns aren’t around any longer to lend assistance.
Yep, it’s time to play the varsity, starting this Sunday afternoon when Peyton Manning and the Colts come shuffling into town with their perfect record and our old uniforms that still look damn good, no matter what anyone says.
If the best the Ravens can do this Sunday is duplicate their Monday night Cleveland effort, a lot of you will be home in time to see the 4pm games kick-off.
If they really ARE just a middle-of-the-road, .500’ish team — as it appears they could be — the Ravens are in for a long afternoon.
Honestly, though, I’m not really sure WHAT the Ravens are.
I’ll certainly admit to being concerned at this stage. Monday’s laugher/snoozer aside, this is a football team that has lost their identity.
Sure, the defense was back. For a night. Against the worst offense in the NFL. Shutting out the Browns and bragging about it is akin to following the Girl Scouts around in your neighborhood and robbing them of their money.
But the identity of the Ravens is gone, thanks in large part to a pair of bloody lips administered by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Baltimore’s offense continues to sputter. And the run-and-gun, Air Coryell-like passing game of September has given way to something more closely resembling the old days under, yeah, I’ll say it, the likes of Kyle Boller.
At least we know Ray Rice can quarterback in a pinch. In fact, after his passing attempt on Monday night, the Browns tried to sign him to a 15-day contract in place of Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson.
Monday night is in the rear view mirror and it’s on to the next round, just like the NCAA tournament. No time to weep about our woes — because the Colts and Steelers couldn’t care less.
Because it’s an NFL game and because the Ravens are a reputable franchise with some good players, they can certainly win on Sunday against Indy.
They’re NOT the Browns.
I know they looked like it for about 80% of the game on Monday night, but they’ll step up on Sunday and give a varsity effort, I promise.
If not, they’ll lose by 30.
One thing for sure, if they lose the next two games – both at home, remember – their playoff hopes will all but be extinguished.
It’s time to “man-up” boys.
The real teams are coming to town.
Survive and advance just turned into: “Play well or get your ass kicked”.