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Ravens' 'Ugly' Win Could Pay Dividends Down The Road


Joe Flacco doesn't do it all the time, but he was so fired up after Sunday's 25-20 comeback win that he delivered a strong message to his team.

Flacco was proud of the way the Ravens fought back from a 20-point deficit.

He threw two interceptions and the offense slogged through much of the first half, but that didn't matter. What mattered was how the team responded to adversity, and that's something Flacco thinks will serve the Ravens down the road.

"Do you want to play that kind of game in September? Not necessarily," Flacco said. "But every single game in January and come February, where we hope to be, is going to be like that. There's going to be tough situations.

"Over the years, these games have just taken us to that next level and really made us mentally tough, so when we get into those games, we don't blink. That's why we can be so good late in the year."

The Ravens have the best playoff winning percentage (15-8, .652 percent) in the NFL since the 1970 merger. In each of the Ravens' six playoff appearances over the past eight years under Head Coach John Harbaugh, they've won at least one game (often on the road).

Perhaps it's because the Ravens forge themselves for difficult postseason games through character-building games early in the year.

During the 2012 Super Bowl season, the Ravens had a comeback win against New England in Week 3, fought off a Browns rally in Week 4, held on to beat Kansas City, 9-6, in Week 5 and clawed out a 31-29 win over Dallas in Week 6.

Last year, the Ravens lost close games early last season. In the regular-season opener in Denver, Steve Smith Sr. had a potential game-winning catch go off his hands. The next week in Oakland, a bad pass interference call wiped out what would have been a game-sealing interception.

On Sunday, the Ravens started 2-0 for the first time since 2009. It doesn't guarantee anything, but the Ravens have now started 2-0 five times in franchise history and made the playoffs all four previous times.

As Harbaugh said Monday, the Ravens have long been "ugly." While Monday morning quarterbacks take style points away for that, the Ravens acknowledge there is still work to be done to improve, but that a win is a win.

"In December, there are going to be some games like this, so we're getting conditioned now," Smith said.

Harbaugh said the most important thing to come out of Sunday's 20-point comeback is, first and foremost, that it counts as a win in the standings. Every win, no matter how it's earned, counts the same when it comes to determining who gets invited to the postseason dance.

But the team also learned that it doesn't want too many more lessons on what it takes to come from behind.

"I hope it serves to teach us that we need to start fast. It doesn't serve you well to dig a hole for yourself," Harbaugh said.

"You don't want to play on the seat of your pants every week," Smith said. "That's not good for the heart."

The Ravens will go to work this week to figure out how to start faster. But they'll be making those changes coming off a win. And they'll have a quarterback who is gaining faith in his team leading the way.

"[Flacco] doesn't say much, but when he does, you should listen because he says wise things," wide receiver Mike Wallace said. "I love every time he talks because I know he's going to say stuff that brings him out of his own character sometimes just to get fired up."

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