Battle-Tested Ravens Heating Up At Right Time


The Ravens had their season on the line two weeks ago.

They had just suffered a crushing overtime loss to the Chicago Bears, and players sat quietly in the visiting locker room after an exhausting muddy, windy game that took nearly five and a half hours to complete.

Head Coach John Harbaugh talked about the "anguish" of the loss. A number of players voiced frustrations with the way the season was going, as they had lost four out of five games and could feel their playoff chances slipping away.

The loss had the potential to derail the season, but since then the Ravens have bounced back with two straight victories, improved their record to 6-6 and now control their playoff destiny heading into the final quarter of the season.

"I think what we've been through has made us who we are right now," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I like to think it has made us strong emotionally and mentally. I think our hard work has made us strong physically. We want to be at our strongest right now."

The Ravens have put together back-to-back wins for the first time since Weeks 2-3. They won in commanding fashion over the New York Jets and then beat the Steelers in a hard-fought game that had significant playoff implications for both teams. 

The offense has made recent progress, the defense has been dominant at times and the Ravens have shown they may be heating up at exactly the right time.

"We're playing the playoffs right now," cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "We just have to be focused during the week, just like you are in the playoffs. You just can't lose, or you're out. Everybody's coming together as a group, and I think we are playing well."

The strong run of late has come after a rocky middle of the season.

The Ravens have endured their share of struggles, losing four games by a combined score of 11 points. They have also dealt with injuries to key players like Dennis Pitta, Ray Rice, Haloti Ngata and Jacoby Jones, and gone through a significant period of transition replacing much of last year's Super Bowl team.

After the Thanksgiving win over the Steelers, Harbaugh stressed to his team they have faced plenty of adversity and still have all of their goals in front of them. 

"It seems like we've been through everything," he said in the post-game speech. "And has one man blinked? Have we flinched? Has anybody cracked? No way. No way."

Now the Ravens hope they can build off their recent victories and put together a three-game winning streak for the first time this season. The veterans know from last year's playoff run that a team can get hot in a hurry, and that is a focus going into the final four games. 

"I said it last year, the team that gets hot right about now is a team that gets a chance," running back Ray Rice said. "Right now it's looking good for us, but we have to continue to take care of business. No knock on any other team, but the Ravens have to take care of the Ravens. If we do that, we should be alright."

The Ravens are two games behind the Bengals (8-4) in the AFC North and are currently in the playoffs [add] as the No. 6 seed. They control their playoff fate and don't have to worry about getting help from anyone else or doing much scoreboard watching around the league.

"The fact of the matter is, what matters is us; we just have to win," Harbaugh said. "If we win games, things are going to work out for us. If we don't, things are going to be tough. That's what we have to take care of; we have to take care of ourselves."

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