The Ravens are proud of the five players they sent to the Pro Bowl, but there are bitter feelings about some key players that didn't make it to Hawaii this year.
While linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, safety Ed Reed, fullback Le'Ron McClain and special teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo will all represent Baltimore at the all-star showcase, the honored group believes others were just as deserving.
Lewis tabbed defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who could join his teammates as a first alternate, as what should have been a sure-fire selection.
"There are no numbers that he doesn't have," said Lewis. "His dominance speaks for itself. When Haloti didn't get picked, I was like, 'Wow.'
"His time is coming, his time is definitely coming,"
Albert Haynesworth of Tennessee and Kris Jenkins of New York were picked as the AFC's starters, and Cleveland's Shaun Rogers is the backup.
It is hard to argue against Ngata, however. His 70 tackles and ability to take up two and three blockers are a big reason the Ravens own the NFL's second-stingiest run defense.
His athleticism has enable Baltimore's coaches to line him up at linebacker, punt block team and even at tight end and fullback.
"We think he's the best defensive lineman in football," head coach John Harbaugh said.
When asked about the perceived snub, the 6-foot-4, 345-pound Ngata was simply proud that the linebackers playing behind him were worthy of the nod.
"I don't feel snubbed," Ngata said. "It's just the way it is. It's cool that my teammates see what I do and think it's important what I do for them. Hopefully, next year I can make it more clear so that I can be one of those guys."
Punter Sam Koch is another Ravens that deserved Pro Bowl consideration. He is having one of the most-prolific seasons in franchise history. Already this year, his 74- and 67-yard punts have qualified for the two longest in team annals, and his 31 boots inside the 20-yard line are second only to Chicago's Brad Maynard.
"Sam has had a great year, and it's one of those situations," said special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg. "Sam took it for what it was. He knows he played well, and he's happy he got votes. I don't think it really affected him a great deal. I know his teammates value him, and he values his teammates.
"I don't really think there was any regret or any disappointment. He's happy to be a part of the conversation."
Meanwhile, wideout Derrick Mason said the team is focused on more important issues heading into a matchup with the Dallas Cowboys with heavy playoff implications. Mason has a team-high 68 reception for 894 yards, on pace to break the 1,000-yard barrier for the seventh time in his career, but Hawaii couldn't be farther from his mind.
"[Nobody] gives a damn about the Pro Bowl right now," Mason explained. "We're fighting for our playoff lives, so we've got to win these two games. The Pro Bowl doesn't mean anything. Guys know who made it and guys know who didn't make it, so now we're preparing for the Dallas Cowboys."
After missing last week's loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers, running back Ray Rice is listed as questionable for Saturday's game with a deep bruise on his shin. Rice expressed his desire to play against the Cowboys.
"I want to play and help this team out," he said. "I wanted to be out there to help my guys out. It's that time of year when you have to put everything together. I just want to be out there.
The rookie explained that it was difficult to cut with the contusion.
"Obviously, the cutting goes along with your initial push, and you need that as a back, especially as I go side-to-side in the backfield," Rice continued. "It's a process. If I can play through, I think I can still be helpful for this team."
Cornerback Fabian Washington (thigh), safety Ed Reed (thigh) and cornerback Samari Rolle (ankle) are all also questionable.
Saturday's game will be a battle of the red zone. The Ravens are the league's No. 2 red zone defense, only giving up touchdowns 35.3 percent of the time, while Dallas scores six at a 64.8-percent rate, also second in the NFL. … Baltimore is 9-3-1 all-time against the NFC East. This weekend marks the fourth NFC East opponent the Ravens have faced this year. … A win could earn the Ravens their fifth 10-win season in franchise history (12 in 2000, 10 in 2001 and 2003, 13 in 2006).