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Ravens Off To Best Start Under John Harbaugh

Posted Nov 20, 2012

Despite all their injuries and flaws, the Ravens are 8-2 for the first time.

The Ravens have dealt with injuries to some of their biggest stars.

They’ve played more than half of one of the most difficult schedules in the NFL.

They’re working through atypical difficulties, particularly with giving up big yardage on defense and with offensive inconsistency on the road.

Despite all that, the Ravens are off to their best start in five years under Head Coach John Harbaugh, and are tied for the finest start in franchise history.

The Ravens are 8-2, two games ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) in the AFC North. Their only other 8-2 start was in 2006 when they won the division.

“The world gets caught up in fantasy stats,” running back Ray Rice said. “For us, the fantasy stat is 8-2.”

The Ravens still have issues ahead that will test them.

Part of it is a difficult remaining schedule all against teams in the playoff hunt.

Up next is a game against the San Diego Chargers, who have lost five of their last six games but have a lot of talent and blew the Ravens out last year.

Seeing the Chargers’ 4-6 record made safety Bernard Pollard especially appreciative of where the Ravens are in the standings.

“We’re very fortunate to be in the position we’re in sitting at 8-2,” he said. “So many teams would love to be 8-2 right now. So many teams are sitting below .500 that are really good teams.”

After the Chargers, there’s a rematch with the Steelers, a game against Robert Griffin III in Washington, showdowns with both Manning brothers and a trip to Cincinnati to close out the year. Baltimore’s remaining opponents have a collective record of 32-28.

“The feeling right now is we’re exactly where we want to be but we haven’t arrived yet,” tight end Ed Dickson said. “We have a lot of stuff we can get better at, a lot of stuff to work on. We want to build from here. It’s not how you begin the season; it’s how you end the season that brings you a championship.”

The Ravens are also still working through injuries, and more continue to be piled on. Tight end Dennis Pitta is recovering from the effects of a concussion, defensive tackle Terrence Cody has swelling in his elbow and cornerback Jimmy Smith (sports hernia) went down last week.

“We lost guys here and there but guys continue to step up,” tackle Michael Oher said. “Guys continue to get better week in and week out and focus on the little things.”

As with any team, there are issues to work out on both sides of the ball too. The Ravens offense ranks 21st in yards per game (338.7) and the defense is 25th in yards allowed per game (382.3).

But Head Coach John Harbaugh encouraged reporters to look at the points – which are what matter at the end of a game. Baltimore is tied for seventh in points scored per game (26.7) and ninth in points allowed per game (20.6).

And in his mind, the Ravens aren’t close to being done growing.

“We can get so much better,” Harbaugh said after Sunday’s game. “The thing I love about this team is this team understands that. This team is ready to go to work. We’re talking about tomorrow and how we’re going to get better this week.”

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