Finding Confidence Key For Turnaround


The Ravens haven't won a game in six weeks.

That last victory came in the preseason opener Aug. 13, putting the Ravens in a drought the franchise hasn't experience since 2007. They've had chances to win close games the first three weeks of the season, but couldn't capitalize on late opportunities to get the job done.

After Sunday's 28-24 loss to the Bengals, veteran players talked about how the team's mental approach needs to change if they are going to turn around the season.

"We also have to get our minds in check and make sure that we want to go out there and win a football game," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "That's what it's all about. It's going out there and playing for the guy beside you, picking him up when needed and going and winning a football game, no matter what the circumstance.

"Right now, it probably comes down to the fact that we're not believing in ourselves enough, and we're envisioning winning those football games. We've got to turn that around and make sure we can do that."

Winning is entrenched into the culture of Ravens football. The young franchise has won two Super Bowls, and has made the playoffs in six of the last seven years. 

But many of the players from that most recent Super Bowl are gone, and the fresh faces who have replaced them still have to learn what it takes to get to that point.

"I just think when you have a mixture of people, meaning old people, including myself and some young guys, some middle-role guys and some flat-out rookies, they don't envision or understand that," wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. said. "You have to prepare your mind to envision doing something. It can't just happen by osmosis. You have to do it repeatedly, over and over again."

Head Coach John Harbaugh acknowledged before the matchup with Cincinnati that coaches and players will naturally have some uncertainty early in the season about whether they can get the first win.

"Until you win your first game, you always have in the back of your mind, 'Can we win a game?' Of course you can, but you have to win one," Harbaugh said last week.

He emphasized Monday that the Ravens are still assured they can get in the win column.

"We're a very confident football team. We feel like we can overcome any adversity. We have before and we will again," Harbaugh said. "I don't care what walk of life you're in, you're going to go through tough times. You're going to go through adversity. You're going to walk through darkness. And you have to keep walking.

"What's the old saying, 'When you're going through Hell, keep going.' That's what we're going to do."

To make that happen, Smith said the Ravens need to increase their work ethic even more.

"These guys, they work their tails off, but we just have to work harder," Smith said. "At the end of the day, that's what it's about. If you feel like you're doing enough, once you do all that you can, you start over and do it all again. That's what these guys have to realize, and that's what we have to do."

The Ravens have several young players in key roles on this year's team. Second-year players like inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and tight end Crockett Gillmore are all in the starting lineup, still getting a feel for the challenges of winning in the NFL.

The Ravens are counting on them and the rest of their young counterparts, and they have to quickly make some changes for the team to get on the winning track.

"I wouldn't say it's confidence at all. We know what we can do," Mosley said. "We have all the confidence in the world. We have to finish, and a lot of that goes on the defense, because we had a chance to close it out.

"But as a team, we have to collectively look at ourselves, each player, and figure out what we need to do to win these close games."

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