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Just ask the Green Bay Packers, who won the Super Bowl a year ago, went 15-1 this season and began the playoffs with every right to believe a reprise was in the offing. They didn't even make the conference title game as injuries caught up with them and they picked a really bad time to throw in a clunker.
Strange things happen.
To get to the Super Bowl, you have to have things go your way, avoid key injuries, win the right big games, get a fortunate bounce or three. You need fate on your side.
The Ravens had it this season right up until that catch slipped out of Lee Evans' hands and Billy Cundiff's kick flew wide. They went undefeated at home, undefeated in their division, swept the Pittsburgh Steelers. That's not going to happen every year. They avoided big injuries. They earned a home playoff game by dint of a tiebreaker, which got them to the conference title game, which got them within a couple of plays of the Super Bowl.
The good news is they're well-constructed to make another run. They've sought consistency as an organization and seemingly have found it, a colossal achievement, not to be underestimated.
Beyond the borders of Ravenstown, a popular notion is that their window of opportunity is closing because their superstars are getting old. Several national radio talk-show hosts suggested that to me just last week, as did a TV guy in New England. I don't buy it for a second. The notion that the Ravens are getting old is really a myth.
They have a 27-year-old quarterback, a 25-year-old Pro Bowl running back. They had two players make All-Pro on defense this year under the age of 30. Their offensive guards will both start in the Pro Bowl Sunday, both under 30.
Sure, Ray Lewis will be 37 next season, and Ed Reed will be 34 if he comes back. But while they may still lead the defense, they don't carry it anymore.
The idea that the Ravens will go as far as Lewis and Reed take them might work well as conversational fodder for national talking heads, but it's a superficial gloss-over, outdated, simply not true.
The Ravens will have to navigate a long, tough road to get back to where they were Sunday, but they're a good bet to at least contend again because they have young talent in crucial places, particularly on offense.
They have a stable core and more going for them than most teams, which is certainly a good starting point, and really, all you can ask for.
Now all they need is for their luck to hold and that next big kick to fly straight.
John Eisenberg covers the Ravens for Comcast SportsNet Baltimore. He worked in the newspaper business for 28 years as a sports columnist, with much of that time coming at the Baltimore Sun. While working for the Sun, Eisenberg spent time covering the Ravens, among other teams and events, including the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series and Olympics. Eisenberg is also the author of seven sports-themed books.