Never Any Dissension In Ravens Locker Room


The Ravens' savoring of Sunday's 29-26 win over the Chargers went beyond making their bye week much more pleasurable.

It was a reward for the team's dedication to not caving in.

When a team is struggling, it can be difficult to stiff arm division in the locker room.

It's not publicly talked about, but it's something that frequently happens to teams behind closed locker room doors, and it certainly could have happened following Baltimore's 1-6 start, especially given the team's high expectations entering the season.

After Sunday's win, it was clear that isn't the case with the Ravens. Baltimore has a special makeup brewing, and much of it trickles down from the top in Head Coach John Harbaugh.

"I'll tell you what, I don't think I've been as proud as I am right now to be associated with a group of guys," kicker Justin Tucker earnestly said Sunday night.

"We're talking about a group that's in a fight and definitely not against each other. You look around all of these sports leagues, and you hear about teams that have dissension within the locker room once they start struggling on game day. But we have none of that."

The Ravens have remained their loose, confident selves during the weeks between losses. They still puff out their chests, they still laugh and joke around. At times, it's been difficult to tell whether they were atop the AFC North division or in the cellar.

As quarterback Joe Flacco said last week, it's difficult to leave the sting of a tough start behind. But the two options are to either cower because of it or keep pushing ahead.

On Saturday night at the team's hotel, Harbaugh told his team that it has already passed the test. The test was to remain faithful to each other during these tough times.

"Courage takes faith, and faith takes courage," Harbaugh said. "I thought our guys displayed that, and they have throughout the course of the whole season."

The ingredients for division have been ready to toss into the mixing bowl. Generally, it comes when there are targets for finger pointing.

All six of the Ravens' losses have been by eight points or less. Individual players haven't made plays at the end of games. The secondary has struggled while the run stopping has been strong. The offense has been inconsistent and Flacco says he has missed too many passes and thrown too many interceptions. The running attack hasn't been on track to the extent it was last season.

"It's really been tough for us here," outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil said. "I think we're becoming more seasoned as a team. There's no tanking here. … We are going to come out and compete every week, so you can bet on that."

There was a faction of Ravens fans who almost wanted the team to lose on Sunday. As Harbaugh came out of the tunnel to take the field before the game, a fan shouted at him, over and over, "No. 1 pick!"

Losing is not in the Ravens' DNA. They won't roll over.

A look around the rest of the NFL doesn't paint the same picture. The Lions, who entered Week 8 with the same 1-6 record as the Ravens, lost to the then two-win Chiefs, 45-10. The Tennessee Titans got blown out by Houston and San Francisco was throttled by St. Louis.

There was talk of the Ravens being the worst team in the NFL.

"We don't concern ourselves with talk; that's the main thing," Harbaugh said. "It's one of the things that I think makes our guys so strong. We concern ourselves with one another and the task at hand."

The task at hand is winning out in the second half of the season. Maybe that sounds crazy, but it doesn't to the Ravens.

Baltimore plays five of its next seven games at home against opponents with a collective 22-31 record. The Ravens finish the regular season against the 7-0 Cincinnati Bengals, who may have nothing to play for at that point.

The AFC is depressed. There are only five teams that don't have at least four losses so far (Patriots, Jets, Bengals, Broncos, Raiders).

"We're trying to make history and just win all of the rest of our games," defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said in Sunday's locker room.

"We can enjoy this win for a couple of extra days," Tucker said. "As soon as we're done enjoying it, we've got to give ourselves the best opportunity to go 8-0 the last half of the season. I think we've got just the men for the job."

A reporter posed the question of making a second-half run to Harbaugh, saying Tucker's statement was a bit in jest.

"He wasn't joking. That's the objective – to win the next game," Harbaugh said. "Are we going to define ourselves and say we can't win every game going forward? There's absolutely no way we'll say that."

When asked what positives he has seen from his team in the first half of the season, Harbaugh pointed to the fact that they've stuck together and kept working. He said he's encouraged by players taking accountability and not lashing out at discipline.

"We've never flinched, never blinked, never backed down, never came out here and didn't practice hard, never did anything that makes you feel like they're not doing everything they can to be as good as they can possibly be," he said.

"That gives me great hope for where we can go as a football team, and I'm excited about what the second half holds. What we've been through is an opportunity to be built and refine and grow into what we're going to be ultimately. Now it's up to us to go do it."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content