I am about to go out on a pretty big limb. I actually think the Ravens are going to bounce back and win on Sunday over Cincinnati. There I’m on the limb.
This has nothing to do with who we are playing. Right now anybody is a tough out, much less a team with Carson Palmer, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and possibly Chad Johnson.
Have I lost my mind? Did I not watch Monday’s debacle? I am simply going back into history for this one and putting faith in Brian Billick.
If you look back at team history under Brian Billick, just when it looks like the noose is being readied in the public square, somehow, some way the team finds a way out the next week. In 2002, after two ugly losses to begin the season, a very young Ravens team bounced back and upset the mighty Denver Broncos on Monday night.
The next season, after two straight losses and down to Anthony Wright at quarterback, the Ravens stage the greatest comeback in team history and beat Seattle at home and end the season winning the division.
Remember the death season of 2005, when Billick was on the supposed chopping block? Remember how they came back following a devastating defeat vs. Tennessee to beat the Jets or how they rebounded from an embarrassing loss in Detroit when we all were ready for the team to quit, yet they came back to beat Cleveland? Remember the win last year over K.C. after that loss in Cincy?
The only time this hasn’t been the case in 2004, when a late-season loss to Cincinnati sent this team into an 18-month funk.
Somehow, I think Billick will pull the troops together and the Ravens will probably win 23-17. He always seems to find a way to motivate the team in these situations, especially in the short term. You don’t last nine years and win 84 games in the NFL as a head coach without being able to get through tough times. I think Brian relishes that us-against-the-world mentality. Don’t bet that comments from Mel Blount and ESPN’s Monday Night crew won’t serve as a motivator. Right now everyone is down on this team.
Offensively, I think Willis McGahee will somehow break a long one against that awful Bengals defense. Then they will grind the ball out enough to keep the Bengals offense on the sideline for large chunks of time.
The defense with its pride wounded after Monday’s game will be enhanced hopefully by the return of Chris McAllister and will play one of its signature-style games, including a turnover created by Ed Reed that leads to a TD. Throw in three Matt Stover field goals and we will again be thinking how we can get into the playoffs.
After all 5-4 sounds better than 4-5. What this will mean for the rest of the season, I don’t know. You need a starting point and Sunday needs to be the first step to restore the pride lost on Monday night.
I will be just as interested to see the reaction of my fellow fans. As for us in the cheap seats and beyond we need to give this team our full support. More than ever they need us to be the 12th man. Stand and cheer loudly, especially when we are on defense — make it miserable for Palmer. You know the Bengals are going to run their hurry-up offense; so let’s see if we can foul them up.
So in the words of Bruce Cunningham, “root hard, be considerate of the fans around you and don’t be a jerk.”