Something Special Going On With Ravens


Head Coach John Harbaugh saw the personality of this year's Ravens begin forming in a New England locker room on Jan. 22.

It was then, after a trip to the Super Bowl literally slipped through their hands and then sailed wide left, when the Ravens came face to face with major adversity.

A resounding speech from Ray Lewis was the beginning, and it has helped Baltimore bounce back from punch after punch this season – the latest of which being a fourth-and-29 Sunday in San Diego.

The Ravens' ability to convert, to come back from a 10-point deficit on the road when the offense was stumbling, left Harbaugh with sentimental words afterwards.

"There's something going on with this football team that is just really, really special and miraculous," Harbaugh said after Sunday's 16-13 overtime win.

On Monday afternoon, reporters asked Harbaugh what he sees in this team that is so special.

"It's the way they deal with adversity," Harbaugh said. "To me, it didn't begin [Sunday]. We always talk about beginnings and starting points, and the starting point of that idea was probably the AFC championship game last year and the way our team was in the locker room.

"And then to let that brew for the whole offseason and through training camp and to build on that and to build on the adversity that we faced throughout the season and to become better through all of that – that's what I'm talking about."

The Ravens' mettle has been tested many times since that AFC title loss.

It was put to the test when reigning Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles tendon in mid-April.

The Ravens were challenged again when the team's defense uncharacteristically tumbled to near the back of the NFL's rankings, leaving a prideful bunch eating a slice of humble pie, according to safety Bernard Pollard.

To make matters more difficult, in the same game Baltimore lost leading cornerback Lardarius Webb for the rest of the season and team leader Lewis suffered a torn triceps that has kept him out of action for the past five games.

After a red-hot start to the year, the offense slogged through road games in Philadelphia, Kansas City and then Houston, where the Ravens suffered their most lopsided loss (30 points) of the Harbaugh era.

But since that game, the Ravens have won four-straight games and now sit with a three-game lead atop the AFC North, well-positioned to make a fifth-straight playoff appearance.

Still, the Ravens know they have issues to correct. Harbaugh was confronted with that reality when he was asked for his reaction to fans that have a problem with how the Ravens are winning games.

"We're certainly not patting ourselves on the back," Harbaugh said.

"We'd rather take the hard look. We'd rather say, 'There are so many things that we can do better.' And we can be a lot better than we are. And when the fans look at that – maybe I've grown past getting defensive about that kind of stuff; maybe we've all grown up."

Harbaugh said the Ravens want to get out of the gates faster, want to finish stronger, want to get more first downs, be better in third-and-short situations and stop the run better.

"If we can do that, and you have the type of team that has the type of character and mettle to find ways to win through all of that, then you probably have a chance to be a pretty good team," he said.

Despite all the issues, the Ravens have found ways to win.

And they've done it in all different kinds of ways – from defensive stands, to offensive shootouts, and special teams touchdowns. They've won close games and blowouts. At 9-2, they've tied their best franchise record through 12 weeks of the season.

After beating the Chargers on Sunday, players talked about simply knowing how to win.

Running back Ray Rice, who converted the fourth-and-29, said the team was convinced it was going to move the chains in the face of improbability.

"This team, we've got a will to win," he said.

So are the Ravens still on a path towards achieving their lofty aspirations despite all the turbulence they've faced this season?

"You talk about how special a team is after they win the Super Bowl – this team was a team of destiny," Harbaugh said. "It's hard to pick out the teams of destiny until destiny expresses itself." 

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