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No Love on the Road


It has been seven years since the Ravens won three consecutive games on the road, but they have a chance to do just that when the team heads to Houston this weekend.

Playing on unfamiliar turf hasn't been kind to the Ravens since beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars in succession during the 2001 campaign.

After that, the Ravens have been 17-34 away from M&T Bank Stadium in regular-season and playoff contests.

With first-year head coach **John Harbaugh** at the helm, Baltimore believes it can begin to turn that record around.

"He's done a good job the night before the game getting us ready, getting us mentally prepared," linebacker Terrell Suggs said of Harbaugh. "I think it's just the atmosphere around here, around the building. He's got everybody ready to play."

Earlier in the year, the Ravens were up and down on the road, taking the AFC North-leading Pittsburgh Steelers to overtime before losing by a field goal on Sept. 29, and then getting blown out 31-3 against the Indianapolis Colts two weeks later.

But the team bounced back with a solid 27-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins in south Florida, followed by last week's convincing 37-27 defeat of the Cleveland Browns.

What has changed as the Ravens head into the second half of the season?

According to rookie quarterback [Joe Flaccointernal-link-placeholder-0], success has come as the team matured week-to-week.

"We're definitely a little bit of a different team," he said. "We're more experienced on the opposite side of the ball and we're ready to go. We're ready to get down there in Houston on Sunday and show them what we are."

In fact, Flacco's last two road games have been his best of the season, posting passer ratings of 120.2 and 109.6 in Miami and Cleveland, respectively. Apparently, hostile fans haven't affected the stoic rookie as much as they'd like.

"When you have eight games under your belt you're definitely a little bit different as a quarterback," Flacco continued. "You're more experienced and you feel better with your guys.

"I think you're starting to see that, and we've just got to make sure that we continue to get better and we continue to show improvement."

The Texans are stingy hosts, however. Under head coach Gary Kubiak, Houston is 13-7 at Reliant Stadium, a venue that sustained extensive damage to its roof in early September because of Hurricane Ike. This year, the Texans are 3-1, winning their last three in front of their home crowd in the repaired stadium.

Plus, in their last four home games, Houston's offense averaged 29.8 points per game.

Matching that three-game streak set in 2001 is going to be a challenge – especially in the longest trip of the campaign – but it is one the Ravens eagerly anticipate.

"We're looking forward to it," said defensive coordinator Rex Ryan. "I know this team averages about 30 points a game at home and has a great record at home, but they're in our way, so we've got to go take care of our business."

While players and coaches certainly want to win every Sunday, doing so on the road separates the NFL's class from the middle of the pack.

"I think it says you're a good football team," Harbaugh said. "When you can win consistently on the road, you're good enough to do it. It's a little bit harder to win on the road than it is at home.

"But if you look at the teams that win on the road, they're good teams. And if you want to prove yourself as a good team, you've got to win on the road."

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