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Why Ravens Want To Beat Bengals: Character Is On The Line


Sunday will be a first for quarterback Joe Flacco. He's never played in an NFL game that had no playoff implications.

When Flacco went down with a season-ending knee injury last year, the Ravens were already behind the eight ball, but they weren't out of it.

Entering Sunday's game in Cincinnati, the Ravens are officially out of the playoff hunt. The Ravens and Bengals will face each other in Week 17 in Cincinnati for the fifth time in six years, and it strangely has no technical meaning for either AFC North power.

"It's probably a little bit of a different experience at this point," Flacco said. "But come Sunday, I don't anticipate it being too much different, because it's going to be a hard-hitting, physical, tough NFL game. We better come ready to play."

Flacco and the Ravens not only want to play. They want to win.

Different reasons were given, as players are still feeling the sting of last Sunday's critical loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers while trying to get ready for the Bengals.

For Head Coach John Harbaugh, it's a chance to move to 9-7 – simple as that. The Ravens have had one winning season (2014) since hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in 2012. They went 8-8 in 2013, 10-6 in 2014 and 5-11 in 2015.

The Ravens were a much-improved team in 2016, but they rarely put it all together for a complete game. Sunday offers one more chance to show the kind of team Baltimore has this season.

"We want to go win the game. We want one more win on the resume for sure," Harbaugh said. "That's what we're working toward, to play our best football on Sunday. That's our goal."

Flacco pointed to simple love of the game. Football players love football – especially the games. They work all year long in hopes of playing in more than 16 games, but players aren't interested in suiting up for just 15 if there is no postseason on the horizon.

"We're professionals. This is what we do," Flacco said. "This is what we love to do, number one. …  It's another chance to go out there and play the game we love. I couldn't be more excited about it."

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs reiterated Wednesday that he will be back for a 15th season in 2017, but he also knows that there won't be too many games left.

"A lot of our Sundays are numbered," Suggs said. "All of them are to be cherished."

There's a lot of personal pride in being a professional that finishes the job. And that's something that teammates hold each other accountable for.

"A lot is riding on what you are as a person," safety Eric Weddle said. "Your character is on the line. You have to come out and fight and show what you are all about when nothing is on the line. You learn a lot about your teammates. You know, do you really love the game?"

Weddle also talked about the defense's desire to have a strong performance after a tough three-game stretch to finish the season, especially in the loss in Pittsburgh. There's ending the Bengals' four-year home winning streak versus the Ravens.

Then, at the end of the day, there's just the feeling of winning.

"I'm very competitive. I don't really like to lose," Suggs said. "We want to win at all costs. We fell a little short [last week] and we're disappointed, but we definitely don't want our last game as a 2016 team to go down as a loss. We really want to win it."

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