Backs Against the Wall

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The Ravens typically treat every game the exact same way. The past doesn't matter. The future doesn't either. It's a week-to-week mentality that successful teams in the NFL need to possess.

But, there is no denying the importance of this weekend's matchup with the Denver Broncos.

Due to the bye, the Ravens had extra time to stew over their current three-game losing streak.

According to linebacker/defensive end Terrell Suggs, a win this weekend would go a long way in building Baltimore's "swagger."

"We definitely need to show up [with it]," Suggs said. "We can't get it back. We can't go there trying to beat them in order to get that little pep in our step back. We need to walk into the stadium with it. If we don't have it, it's going to be another long day for the city of Baltimore.

"I think we show up as the Baltimore Ravens. If we show up, I like our chances."

For the Ravens, it is not necessarily a matter of gaining confidence. Baltimore simply needs to build wins. With several tough opponents ahead – including another battle with the Cincinnati Bengals and two with the Pittsburgh Steelers, both of whom share the AFC North lead – the Ravens must take advantage of their home schedule.

In order to get to the postseason, 10 wins is a comfortable number for which to strive. Then again, the Ravens squeaked in last year with an 11-5 tally, with tie-breakers holding an 11-5 Patriots team out.

"Any time you win in this league it builds momentum," said head coach John Harbaugh. "I think the biggest challenge when you don't win is to still build momentum, to still continue to grow as a football team. Swagger, confidence, all those things – I don't think you have a team in there that's not confident, doesn't have 'swagger.'

"Our guys believe in themselves, and we'll play the way we'll play – this week and throughout. We've just got to come up on Sunday with plays that give us a chance to win games."

M&T Bank Stadium will certainly be behind the home team, where the Ravens have never lost to the Broncos in three contests.

It has been the venue for a Ravens defeat this year, as well.

In Week 5, the Bengals came to M&T and pulled out a 17-14 victory when the Ravens' defense was flagged for three penalties on a final game-winning drive that led to a Carson Palmer-to-Andre Caldwell touchdown pass.

The previous Sunday, Baltimore traveled to New England, where the Patriots prevailed 27-21. The Ravens were marching down the field as time ticked away, but receiver Mark Clayton dropped a critical fourth-down throw in the red zone.

The Ravens then entered the bye with a heartbreaking loss to the Minnesota Vikings on a last-second missed field goal.

Now, even though the season is still long, there is no denying that the Ravens' backs have inched slightly closer to the proverbial wall.

"We don't choose to thrive like that," Suggs explained. "Sometimes that's the only way it pans out. It seems like we're always fighting an uphill battle, but we make it hard on ourselves. You know, we do it to ourselves. All the experts keep saying, 'Oh, three plays, and they're 6-0.'

"We can't live up there. We live in the reality, and the reality is we're 3-3. And we just better start playing some serious football. Otherwise, our January is not going to look that good."

Leading up to Sunday, the Ravens have been just as focused as they've been all year.

Coming off the bye, many players and coaches talked about looking in the mirror and seeing what each individual can do to get better. Then, it was a week of solely looking at the Broncos leading up to gameday.

Harbaugh seemed pleased with the results, but didn't think it was different than any other work schedule.

"Our guys have continued to improve all year, and regardless of the outcome of a particular game, I think we've gotten better as a football team every single week," Harbaugh said. "Now we want that to show up in our results. We want to carry that to Sunday.

"I think you can tell how well you've prepared, and preparation goes a long way," he continued. "We have not had a bad week of practice yet this year, and we've won three and we've lost three."

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