Ravens Face Test In Patriots

a3f9bbcb2d3844b8a8f2bd71ea3257c1.jpg


Today's matchup with the New England Patriots marks the first big test for the Ravens.

Baltimore – and its fans – can use the game to gauge where the team is after getting off to a smoking 3-0 start.

The Patriots present a difficult challenge. Head coach Bill Belichick is one of the best at preparing his team and making in-game adjustments. And Tom Brady is as tough as they come at quarterback.

The Ravens certainly respect the Patriots for what Belichick and Brady have built over the years.

How can they not when they've nearly accumulated a fist full of Super Bowl rings, just from this decade? In an NFL era with a salary cap and free agency - with players moving from team to team every year - that is no small feat.

To add to the mystique, one would think that the Ravens have their 0-4 record against New England on their minds.

According to Ravens coach John Harbaugh, that is not the case. The way he sees it, the 2009 version of Ravens/Patriots has nothing to do with the past.

"This team has never played the Patriots, have they?" he said.

This New England squad is much different than the one that took the title in 2004. Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel and Rodney Harrison are all former Pro Bowlers that have either retired or been traded. The coaching staff has been ravaged over the past few years with Romeo Crennell, Charlie Weis, Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels all leaving for other jobs.

The constants are Belichick and Brady. With those two, the Patriots have followed the path to success.

But the Ravens seem to be earning a piece of that respect after closing out their 2008 campaign strong, posting a 12-2 regular-season record since Week 7 of last year, and opening 2009 so hot.

Media outlets have slotted them at or near the top of power rankings, and their new offensive firepower is the lead on multiple sports newscasts.

There are similarities between the two opponents. Harbaugh has found his franchise quarterback in Joe Flacco, and there was a strong defense already in place.

It is evident that the Ravens are looking to build a dynasty with New England's blueprint.

How far Harbaugh and Flacco can go remains to be seen. They have only been together for two years.

The Ravens have proven themselves thus far, but the bellwether exists in New England.

"When you respect a program, or you respect a coach – there are certainly a lot of things you take from it," Harbaugh said. "But we're going up there to compete on Sunday, and they'll get our best."

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

Advertising