Eisenberg: This Is Just How the Ravens Like It


The Ravens will have a lot going against them when they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday night at Heinz Field.

They're reeling from having lost three of their past four games, an ill-timed stumble that has pretty much erased their hopes of winning a third straight AFC North title.

They've added more key players to the Reseve/COVID-19 list.

The test results forced them to briefly close the Under Armour Performance Center in what is already a rushed week of preparation due to playing on the road on Thursday night.

Any one of those issues would be a cause for concern heading into a matchup with the Steelers, who have reeled off 10 straight wins to open the 2020 season. Put together, the issues definitely relegate the Ravens to solid underdog status.

But I'd be careful with taking all that into consideration and concluding that Thursday night's contest is a lost cause.

The Ravens have a long history of thriving when the odds are stacked against them. Sixteen of the 25 playoff games in their history have taken place on the road, and they're 10-6 in those contests. It's an impressive record that has succeeded in setting the franchise's default mindset as one of happily taking on challenges.

The nucleus of the 2020 team has bought right in, as evidenced by the fact that Baltimore had won 10 straight regular-season road games over two seasons before losing to the New England Patriots a couple weeks ago.

The current Ravens are comfortable having the odds stacked against them and perhaps even better off as underdogs, being on the road, doubted, etc., as opposed to being favored, at home, etc.

Think about it. They're 0-2 in home playoff games since 2018. Last year, they won their last 12 regular season games to earn the top seed in the AFC field, but with much expected of them, they lost to the Tennessee Titans at M&T Bank Stadium.

Along the same lines, they laid an egg earlier this season when they finally had the Kansas City Chiefs on their home turf after losing to them twice in Kansas City. They've also lost to the Steelers and Titans at home this season after holding double-digit leads.

Sunday's overtime loss to the Titans was a highly physical affair that ended in gut-wrenching fashion, and now the Ravens are playing again some 100 hours later, on the road, against their undefeated rivals, after what can only be described as several tumultuous days on the COVID-19 front.

It's tough circumstances, for sure. But isn't that just how the Ravens like it?

"Never easy, never pretty" became a popular mantra during the team's 2012 Super Bowl run, and it's a mantra that Head Coach John Harbaugh still summons when the time is right. You'll surely hear it if the Ravens somehow prevail Thursday night.

Can they? For what it's worth, oddsmakers are giving them a shot. Pittsburgh is only favored by a field goal despite being four games up in the standings.

I get it. Yes, the Ravens are struggling lately, and with a 6-4 record, they aren't delivering what was expected of them in 2020. But are they out-and-out collapsing, as some seem to believe? I don't see it.

They gained nearly twice as many yards as Pittsburgh in the first game between the teams. It was a game they should've won, not one in which they were outclassed.

They also were far from outclassed in Sunday's loss to the Titans. It was a tough game between playoff-caliber teams.

No doubt, they've got problems to address. Their defensive front is shorthanded. Their young wide receivers aren't producing. Their starting offensive line seemingly changes every week. The offense keeps being undermined by self-inflicted wounds such as bad snaps, penalties, turnovers and drops.

But the Ravens have never minded being in that prickly place where all seems lost. That's probably worth remembering right now.

Related Content