of changes and bumps in the road.
Changing coordinators from Chuck Pagano to Dean Pees. Losing Jarret Johnson and Cory Redding, who were major contributors in 2011’s near-Super Bowl campaign. The devastating injuries to Suggs, Lewis, Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith and a version of Haloti Ngata that has been gimpy since Week 2. And a bunch of guys who’ve been drafted by Ozzie Newsome’s regime but have not been noticeable like the generation before them who all seemed to become a notch better when surrounded by the likes of Ray Lewis and the greatest crop of defensive coaches in this generation of the NFL.
And yet somehow on Sunday against a very capable Chargers offense in their playground of San Diego, the previously maligned pass rush awakened while Paul Kruger, Arthur Jones and Suggs got into the backfield to create havoc for Philip Rivers with the secondary neutralizing weapons like Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates to allow the Ravens to remain the game in the 4th quarter with a chance to witness “The Miracle at The Murph” on the Rice run.
With five games left and a gaudy three-game lead over both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, the Ravens are now only battling themselves for another bye week of rest in January and some home playoff Festivus cooking in Baltimore.
And this is a road that John Harbaugh and many members of a now-veteran group of Baltimore Ravens knows all-too-well.
Since the draft of Joe Flacco and Ray Rice in Harbaugh’s 2008 rookie campaign, the Ravens have never feared missing the playoffs and with a win over Pittsburgh this Sunday – and the Steelers are expected to again be without Ben Roethlisberger for the 4:15 p.m. game here – the Ravens will officially be headed back to another purple Festivus January ride.
It’s Pittsburgh Week again in Baltimore.
But this time, it’s the Steelers who are circling the drain and trying to overcome their own adversity from three cars behind the Ravens in the AFC North while visiting the land of pleasant living.
And no matter your beefs with the offense, Cam Cameron, Joe Flacco, the pass rush or any other facet of the oft-times “struggling” Ravens’ personnel or game plan, this is a week to be savored and not soured by the “coulda,” “woulda” or “shoulda” from the teams like San Diego, Cleveland, Kansas City and Pittsburgh who found themselves at their home post-game press conference podiums trying to explain how they snared defeat from the jaws of victory at the hands of the visiting purple leaders of the AFC North.
The Ravens just might be luckier than they are good — especially on the road. But if they can find a way to play two games in Baltimore in January by clawing for a few more weeks, lots of people will be calling me about a roadtrip to New Orleans in early February.