The last time the Ravens lost a preseason game, some of their younger players were still in high school.
Baltimore has a 17-game preseason winning streak dating back to 2015 heading into Saturday night's opener against the New Orleans Saints at M&T Bank Stadium. According to veteran sportswriter Rick Gosselin, it's the longest preseason winning streak since the 60s.
Defensive lineman Brandon Williams had to be reminded how long it had been since Baltimore's last preseason defeat. "Wow, that's a long time," he said.
For four straight seasons (2016-2019), the Ravens have gone undefeated during the preseason. They didn't have a chance to do that in 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the preseason being cancelled.
Now the Ravens are looking forward to continuing their preseason prowess. It's part of their winning culture, a reflection of how diligently they prepare for the regular season.
"It means a lot," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Whether it's a winning streak, or just the idea of how you approach the games.
"I just think it's a credit to the players in terms of preparation and the coaches over the years in terms of we run a good training camp, offseason program and guys are ready to play good fundamental football. That's what wins, whether it's preseason or whatever it might be."
Baltimore has won despite using vanilla game plans and giving backup players the majority of reps.
"We play our starters less than most teams, usually," Harbaugh said. "We just run our installs, so it's not like we're game-planning for anybody."
For the most part, the Ravens have dominated during preseason play, winning their last six games by at least 10 points. With most of their starters seeing little or no action, players throughout the roster have performed well, taking advantage of an opportunity to earn a roster spot or move up the depth chart.
The preseason is particularly important for young players trying to prove themselves. Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard, running back Gus Edwards, offensive lineman Patrick Mekari and inside linebacker Chris Board are among undrafted players who helped secure roster spots with strong preseason performances in recent years.
Facing the Saints will give this year's rookies their first opportunity to compete against another team, prior to next week's joint practices against the Carolina Panthers. With roster decisions looming, coaches will look for players to separate themselves, but the Ravens will also look to win. With fans back at M&T Bank Stadium, a preseason game will be welcomed after three grueling weeks of training camp.
"You can't wait to see the guys in a game setting," Harbaugh said. "It's time. We're ready. We've been ready for a few days. I can't wait to get out there and watch these guys go. It'll be electric on the sideline. Hey, we'll have fans in the stands. The whole thing is going to be just a great time."