Ravens Pack Up, Proud Of 2014 Season

Considering the adversity that could have dragged the Ravens down this year, making it to the divisional round of the playoffs is an accomplishment.

From the running back Ray Rice ordeal to 19 players on injured reserve, a suspension to defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and more, Baltimore went through the wringer.

But what makes Saturday's divisional loss so painful is that the Ravens looked to be thriving down the stretch – despite all the hardships.

The Ravens offense was humming. Baltimore had two 14-point leads in Foxborough against the top-seeded Patriots. They looked poised for another dramatic win in the final minutes as quarterback Joe Flacco marched his unit down the field.

And then, in an instant, it was all over.

"That's the tough part about it," defensive end Chris Canty said. "You're playing, you're playing and it never occurs to you that the outcome might not be what you want it to be. … We came up short, and that's the end of the narrative for the 2014 Ravens."

Sunday's locker room cleanout was a combination of both of those emotions.

There was disappointment, yet pride. There was a sense of accomplishment, yet a feeling that the Ravens fell short of their potential, which came alive in the playoffs.

Head Coach John Harbaugh delivered the final message to his team before breaking for the offseason, and it was one from the heart.

"[He] just [said] he's proud of us – all that we accomplished," said running back Justin Forsett. "We think that the sky is the limit for this group, and hopefully we make it work going forward."

And here comes the second part.

"Like I said, it's really unfortunate, because I know for us on the offensive side of the ball we were really in a groove and doing some great things," Forsett said. "Hopefully that momentum we built can move on to next season."

The ultimate question is whether the 2014 season was a success.

After finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the first time since the Harbaugh-Flacco era began last year, the Ravens rebounded with a 10-6 record despite more injuries and a lot more controversy surrounding the team.

They finished third in the AFC North, yet knocked out the division-winning rival Pittsburgh Steelers in Heinz Field in the wild-card round. They took the AFC's top-seeded team to the brink, forcing them to pull out every trick.

Multiple players said they would look back on this season as a success despite an earlier playoff exit than planned.

"Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short of our goal, but I couldn't be more proud of a group of men, the character of the guys in this locker room, the way they fought, the way they overcame adversity obstacle after obstacle," Canty said.

"This team is moving forward. We're going to continue to build on the things that we improved on this year, strengthening the areas that we were weak [in] during the season and compete for championships in the future."

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