The loss to the Steelers on Sunday was tough for the Ravens and their fans to take, especially in light of the replay-contested touchdown in the final minute. But in the NFL, teams must forget the game just played and focus on the one coming up.
Fans can look at the replay of the “touchdown” catch by Santonio Holmes with their DVRs, slow-motion captures, etc. But none of that will be done today at the Ravens facility in Owings Mills. The only film study will be on the Cowboys’ defense and their eight-sack performance against Eli Manning and the Giants on Sunday night.
Ravens rooters will look at the defensive effort on the Steelers’ final drive and criticize the offensive and defensive play calls by Baltimore’s coaching staff. The Ravens will be looking at film of Tony Romo, Jason Witten and Terrell Owens and trying to figure out a way to stop a team that can be as lethal as the Steelers in its best moments.
The bottom line is: The loss hurts, but it’s a short week for those who are playing on Saturday night. The biggest challenge of the season lies ahead for the Ravens in an emotional atmosphere in Dallas as Texas Stadium sees its final NFL regular-season game.
Good teams hold fourth-quarter leads against Pittsburgh twice and Tennessee. Great teams find a way to completely finish those games and win. Good teams get a chance to shut the door when the opponents need 92 yards to win. Great teams find a way to get those yards in the late moments. Pittsburgh has been great over the last month, while the Ravens have been good, and it showed at the most crucial of times in the late afternoon dusk at M&T Bank Stadium.
In order to stay in playoff position, John Harbaugh and the Ravens can’t dwell on the past, but the team must complete the journey from good to great this week against the Cowboys.
There were no scenarios that put the Ravens in the playoffs this past week with a loss and help from other clubs, so the Ravens find themselves without a playoff-clinching scenario for Week 16. Only Indianapolis (that has 10 different ways to clinch) can sew up a Wild Card spot this week.
As for the proverbial “if the season ended today …” look at the AFC standings, Baltimore, Miami and New England are tied for the sixth playoff spot. To break the three-way tie, the division tie in the AFC East must be dealt with first. The Jets have a better record among the three teams against each other (2-1) and goes into the No. 3 position. Miami moves ahead of New England because of a better conference record (currently 6-4 to 6-5). Baltimore owns head-to-head over Miami. So the order goes: No. 6 Baltimore, No. 7 Miami and No. 8 New England.