Can Ravens Keep Winning This Way?


Baltimore had a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit against New England – yet, won 31-30.

The Ravens scrambled to defend four final Cleveland passes to the end zone – yet won, 23-16.

Baltimore surrendered 179 rushing yards in the first half in Kansas City – yet won, 9-6.

The Ravens allowed the most rushing yards in franchise history and gave the Cowboys a chance at a game-winning field goal – yet won, 31-29.

The average margin of victory in the Ravens' four-game winning streak is a narrow 3.2 points.

How long can the Ravens keep winning such close games and despite giving up so many yards, especially now that linebacker Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb are out for the rest of the year?

Linebacker Albert McClellan provided insight into the thoughts of the Ravens defenders. In his and others' [add] minds, there's no other choice.

"Yeah, we're going to win. We've got to win," McClellan said, as if it wasn't even a question. "That's us."

The Ravens sit at 5-1, tied atop the AFC with Sunday's opponent Houston. After their 31-point win over the Bengals in Week 1, all four of Baltimore's other victories have been by a combined 13 points.

"Look at the Orioles," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "How many [close games] did they win? You're going to have them, so it's better to win them.

"Sure, we'd like to have some that weren't so close – it'd probably be better for all of us – and we'll do our best to try to do that, but it's tough. It's a tough league, and our guys have done a nice job with the close games."

The Ravens have not won their last two games on paper.

They were outgained in yardage by the Chiefs, 338 yards to 298. Kansas City performed much better on third down and possessed the ball for more than eight minutes longer. Turnovers were to Kansas City's undoing, as they had four to the Ravens' two.

Baltimore was outgained in yardage by Dallas too, 481 yards to 316. Partly because of Jacoby Jones' kickoff return for a touchdown, the Cowboys had the ball for more than twice the amount of time the Ravens did (40:03 to 19:57)

"Stats don't win football games," safety Bernard Pollard said after Sunday's game.

"I think you can see that the last two weeks with 214 and 227 [rushing yards allowed]. I think for us, we've got to continue to battle, get off the field when we need to, we've got to continue to get turnovers and we've got to get our offense the ball back."

But Pollard's tone seems to have changed in the days following Baltimore's win. The safety is increasingly bothered by the team's run defense and believes it could lead to losses.

"The yards we're giving up the ground are going to catch up with us at some point," Pollard said Wednesday. "So we've got to nip that thing in the bud."

The Ravens defense has done two things particularly well: get turnovers and force field goals. Their seven interceptions are tied for the ninth most in the league. Their six fumble recoveries are tied for fourth most.

While the defense's yards allowed per game ranking is ugly at 26th (396.7), the unit is 11th in points allowed per game (19.7). They've given up 11 touchdowns to 14 field goals and are tied for the seventh-best mark in the league in red zone efficiency.

"We've been winning the way we've been doing it," linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. "We're not going to keep giving up that amount of yards every game. That's just not how we do it around here. We hit a little slide recently, but I've got full belief that we're going to get it together."

Other NFL teams have been successful despite allowing a lot of yards on defense.

Last year, the New England Patriots had the 31st-ranked defense and went to the Super Bowl. The Green Bay Packers had the league's lowest-ranked unit.

The year before, the Patriots had the 25th-ranked defense and the NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks had the 27th-ranked unit.

The common theme there (with the exception of Seattle in 2010), was a dominant offense. The Ravens are working toward that this season.

The Ravens offense ranks eighth in the NFL in average yards per game (385) and ninth in points per game (26.8). The unit has three games with more than 30 points and two with 23.

It has had three tough halves so far this season: the second half in Philadelphia and both in Kansas City. The only times the Ravens offense has struggled has been on the road, which it will hit in four of the next five games.

"I know that some of the games have been close," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "But that's the way it is in this league, and we're happy to get them. Last year, we didn't get some of those, and we're happy to get these when we can."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content