Nasty weather is part of the routine in the AFC North.
Games in the cold, wind, rain and snow are all perils of playing in the Northeast and Midwest at this time of year, and the Ravens have seen their share of inclement weather in recent weeks.
Now they have more cold weather in the forecast for this week's Thanksgiving matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"That's the great thing about having four seasons, we're the type of team that's built for this type of weather," outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil said.
The forecast for Thursday's 8:30 p.m. game is calling for temperatures in the low-to-mid 20's, with wind between 10-16 miles per hour and gusts as high as 25-30 miles per hour.
At least it should be dry, which is better than what the Ravens have faced in recent weeks.
Against Cincinnati in Week 10, quarterback Joe Flacco said at the time it was the windiest game he had ever played at M&T Bank Stadium. The next week, the Ravens went to Chicago, sat through a two-hour severe weather delay and then played in a rainy mud pit with wind gusts of up to 45 miles per hour. The wind stuck around Baltimore last week against the Jets, in a game with gusts up to 40 miles per hour and temperatures in the 20s.
"Seems like over the last several weeks, conditions have been crazy in general," kicker Justin Tucker said.
The Ravens are accustomed to playing in the cold weather, partly because the team practices outside year-round. Some teams head indoors to climate-controlled field houses during November and December, but Head Coach John Harbaugh generally prefers to prepare in the elements.
He grew up watching his dad coach college football in the Midwest, and he referenced an old quote from either legendary college coach Woody Hayes or Bo Schembechler – there was a debate about* *who said it first – talking about the importance of practicing outside.
"If you're going to play in the North Atlantic, you have to practice in the North Atlantic," Harbaugh said, reciting the quote. "We like to practice outside. We prefer it.
Having success in cold weather goes beyond outdoor practices, as another advantage for the Ravens is at quarterback.
The Ravens have long talked about Flacco's ability to excel in cold weather. The 6-foot-6, 245-pound quarterback has the size and arm strength to minimize the effect of high winds and bad weather. He also grew up in the Northeast and played college ball at Delaware, and has plenty of experience playing in the cold.
"It starts with the quarterback, and Joe is from this part of the country," Harbaugh said. "He's a big, strong guy. He's got big hands. He's got a strong arm. He can stand in there and make throws under duress. He scrambled around and made a bunch of throws. That's what you need in this kind of [weather]. You need it anytime, but in this kind of weather, a guy that can spin the ball through the wind is pretty important, and Joe can do that."
Managing the elements will likely be critical against Pittsburgh this week, and Harbaugh stressed that limiting turnovers and playing field position football is even more important at this point of the season.
"It's how you have to play to win in November and December in the National Football League in this part of the country," Harbaugh said. "We just have to play this kind of football."