Insight to the Limelight: Take It All In

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SPOTLIGHT

Fourteen words. They stood alone.

It was an email sent to me Tuesday morning by Green Bay's assistant director of public relations, Adam Woullard. The message seized my attention and made me stare. Simple. Concise. Commanding. It was some of the best advice I had received in awhile.

"Just make sure you stop every now and then to take it all in."

I knew precisely what Adam meant. He didn't need to write anything else. This friendly nugget had been delivered by a guy whose team, just 12 months ago, was exactly where we are right now – preparing for a chance to play in the Super Bowl. Green Bay was riding a similar wave, something rare that doesn't develop often.

Unfortunately for the Packers last year, they were sideswiped by a sizzling Giants team in one of the most thrilling NFC Championship games ever. For the Frozen Tundra faithful, the defeat stung. Badly. I imagine it hurt even worse than our Divisional Playoff loss to Indianapolis the prior season.

But there's no need to re-live those memories – for either of us.

Let me get back to Adam's 14 words. As I sat looking at his email, I replayed key moments from the past couple months in my mind. Of course, quite a few jumped out immediately: Ed Reed's 107-yard INT-TD vs. the Eagles; Mark Clayton's TD pass to Derrick Mason at Cincy; Matt Stover nailing the game-winner at Tennessee. They were vivid memories, mostly comprised of big plays that have sparkled on highlight reels for weeks.

But then, my mind refocused a bit. I started concentrating on the little things about this team I notice all the time, yet, probably don't appreciate like I should. Things such as…

  • Rex Ryan and his daily routine of taking a break from game-planning late in the afternoon to visit the PR hallway. Just a couple days ago, he stopped by our office to talk, and he affirmed: "This is the most fun I've ever had in a season. It's the most fun in all my years of football."…
  • Derrick Mason introducing Joe Flacco before every Wednesday press conference: "No. 5 on the jersey, but No. 1 in your hearts, here he is, the man himself – JOE FLACCO!"…
  • Walking through the terminal at BWI upon returning from road games. My, how the roar of the crowd has grown. Three games ago, a handful of fans greeted us. Two games ago, several hundred. Last Saturday, a couple thousand. …
  • Coach Harbaugh sprinting down the back of the sidelines after we beat the Dolphins, slapping high-fives with the massive crowd of Ravens fans who made the trek to Miami. …
  • Several coaches and players, overwhelmed with joy, wiping tears from their faces in the locker room after we beat Tennessee. …
  • O.J. Brigance. I don't have words to describe what I – along with everybody else on our team – have learned from him. His spirit and courage have lifted us all. …
  • The many personalities in our locker room, like Frank Walker. The guy is definitely one of a kind, and he's also very thoughtful. This year, Frank gave every member of our organization a Christmas card with a $2 bill enclosed. Those are the kinds of guys we have – fun, loose, and personable. …
  • Coaches, who often sleep in their offices, loading up on morning coffee in the cafeteria after pulling all-nighters to prepare for our next game. …
  • The hoard of media at our training facility this week. For our PR staff, things have never been so hectic – nor has our work been so gratifying and enjoyable.
  • The national anthem prior to kickoff. For some reason, that's when my nerves burst with anticipation. It's awesome. …
  • The booing, cursing and yelling from opposing fans. We've played in some hostile environments this season, and there's nothing quite like quieting an unruly crowd. …
  • Bus rides. When our team leaves the hotel, silence falls upon us as the intensity begins to brew. After a win, it's a much different scene. The aisles are filled with vigor as we head to the airport. …

These are several things many of us have been lucky enough to experience this season. To me, they're a select few that really stand out, even though I have hundreds more I could write about.

I believe the same can be said for everyone else who has been a part of this ride. For every Ravens coach, player, staff member and fan, countless moments have created everything that's gotten us to this point. It sure is special.

But remember, we're not done yet. There's plenty of gas left in the tank, and Pittsburgh happens to be next on our journey. And while nobody really knows it if will end there or if we'll move forward to play another game, no matter what happens Sunday – or soon there after – I'm going to keep reminding myself of Adam's 14 words.

"Just make sure you stop every now and then to take it all in."

CAN'T MISS THIS

Above in my list of things to "stop and take it all in," I mentioned the amazing fan turnout we've witnessed at the airport after coming back from our games these past few weeks. Punch this link to see self-made video from LB Brendon Ayanbadejo as we arrived last Saturday night.

This is why we have the best fans in the NFL.

NOTE THE QUOTE

Joe Flacco on if he's ever thought to himself that the playoffs are different than the regular season:"It's obviously a little bit different. I know that it's different, but you can't let yourself think that. You can't go out there on the field and say, 'Wow, what am I doing out here?' You've got to act like you're supposed to be here, and that's part of what being a quarterback is. You go out there and you act like you're supposed to be here. You act like you're going to get the job done and you know that you're going to get the job done. And as long as you think that way, then you give yourself the best shot at getting the job done. The bottom line is if you don't get it done, then you don't. And I can deal with that. It's going to happen eventually, at some point. I'm not afraid to fail, and that's what lets you go out there and play so loose. I'm going to go out there, and we're going to do our best to come through. That's what we expect to do and we're going to do. But, you can't be afraid to fail."

Insight:This is exactly what's so great about Joe. Not only does he truly believe what he says, but he also plays like it. That's the mentality of a competitor, a successful quarterback, and most importantly, a true winner.

STAT OF THE WEEK

John Harbaugh is just the 12th first-year head coach in NFL history to lead his team to a Conference Championship game. This weekend, he aims to become only the fifth rookie head coach ever to win a conference title and advance to the Super Bowl.

ROOKIE HEAD COACHES TO REACH THE SUPER BOWL 

### STAT OF THE WEEK II

This Sunday marks the seventh road playoff game in Ravens history. Baltimore boasts a 5-1 playoff record away from home, which ranks as the top road winning percentage (.833) in NFL playoff history (minimum five games).

HIGHEST ROAD WINNING PERCENTAGES(Playoff History / Min. 5 Games)

Team

W-L

Pct.

Baltimore Ravens

5-1

.833

Carolina Panthers

4-2

.667

New England Patriots

7-9

.438

Pittsburgh Steelers

7-9

.438

Dallas Cowboys

9-13

.409

NUMBERS TO RAVE ABOUT

3No. 6 seeds to ever reach a Conference Championship game. Before the Ravens and Eagles both advanced to their respective title games last weekend, the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers were the only sixth seed to reach a Conference Championship.

6.4Points per game the Ravens have allowed in their seven all-time playoff victories. Baltimore has never surrendered more than 10 points in a playoff win.

That's it for this edition of Insight to the Limelight. As always, thank you for reading. Until next time…

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