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Home Stretch Provides Chance For Ravens Rebound


It's tough to say things are looking up for the Ravens when they're sitting at 1-6 and tied for the worst record in the NFL.

But at least the Ravens don't have to get on a plane this week for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers. That brought a smile to Head Coach John Harbaugh's face Wednesday afternoon when speaking with reporters.

After playing five of the first seven games of the season on the road, the Ravens will have three straight home games at M&T Bank Stadium.

Only two teams in the last 16 years have started the season with five of its first seven games on the road. That other team was the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, who went 5-2 over the stretch and eventually won Super Bowl XXXV.

The script has been flipped this season, but the Ravens aren't counting themselves out yet, and see this as their time to turn things around.

One question is whether the fans will be just as invested despite a losing record. Quarterback Joe Flacco said he can sense fans getting upset, and was asked whether he expects the home fans to be just as receptive as usual.

"This is a great city, and I haven't had any other experience than that while being here," Flacco said.

"I don't know anything else but Baltimore coming out and supporting their teams. So, I would definitely be surprised [by a poor reception], but at the end of the day, these people and this city is entitled good football. And when you're not getting it, you can understand."

The Ravens will first host the Chargers (2-5), then have their bye week, followed by home games against the Jaguars (2-5) and Rams (3-3).

When the schedule was released, Sunday's game against the Chargers seemed to be one that would carry heavy playoff implications considering Baltimore and San Diego have been neck-and-neck in the AFC wild-card race in recent years.

That isn't the case right now, but who knows with nine games left to play?

"We're not making any assumptions," Harbaugh said. "We expect to go out there and play at the highest possible level – as well as any team in football. That's our goal every single week. … We're going to go out there and get after it."

The Ravens typically turn it on in November, particularly at home. Under Harbaugh (since 2008), the Ravens are 12-2 in November home games, the best mark in the NFL. Baltimore has won 20 of its past 11 home games in November.

The one loss, however, came last year to the Chargers on Nov. 30 when quarterback Philip Rivers threw a touchdown in the final minute to pull off a comeback 34-33 win.

Of course, history won't impact what happens on Sunday. But finally having a packed stadium cheering for the guys in purple does. The Ravens are 0-2 at home this season with crushing losses to division rivals Cincinnati and Cleveland, and the team needs its fans to help end the skid.

"It'll be huge to be back at M&T [Bank Stadium] with our crowd and let people deal with that," tight end Crockett Gillmore said. "The Ravens are a dominant team across the country, but at home, I think the numbers have shown with Coach Harbaugh and what he's done."

"Oh, man, it's amazing," added defensive tackle Brandon Williams. "We're definitely excited just to be at home, in our atmosphere, loud fans, crazy crowd and just getting after it, playing Raven football."

Even though the Ravens have the home-field advantage, there's still a hurdle to overcome. That's been a theme so far this season.

Baltimore has to make the tough turnaround of playing on a shortened week due to being on Monday Night Football – from across the country in Arizona. The team didn't get back to Baltimore until about 6 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Harbaugh gave the players the day off on Tuesday with instructions to get as much sleep as possible. The coaches came straight from the plane into the office to prepare for San Diego.

The players got in to start work Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. when they would usually be in Tuesday afternoon after a Sunday game.

"We've had to do this a few times where we've been, not only on a Monday night road trip – we've got experience with that – but a Monday night road trip where we've been a long way away, which presents some challenges," Harbaugh said.

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