Back in October of 2012, ESPN declared M&T Bank Stadium the toughest venue for opposing teams to play in. Although that may not still be the case today, the Baltimore Ravens have the opportunity to make Baltimore a nightmare destination for opposing teams.
In the 2011 season, the Ravens were an undefeated 8-0 team at home, and then improved that record to 9-0 with a playoff victory in the Divisional Round over the Houston Texans. The Ravens pushed that streak to 15 games, but it was brought to a close by the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2012 season.
Those days are long gone and M&T Bank Stadium has not been the same place it used to be for this Baltimore team.
In 2013, the Ravens finished with an 8-8 record, and a home record of 6-2. A 6-2 record at home is good, but 2-6 on the road is bad even for Baltimore, a team who hasn’t played good “on the road” football in years. In 2014, the Ravens finished the season with a record of 10-6, and home record of 6-2. Again, 6-2 is a good home record. However one of the loses came against San Diego, a game in which the Ravens blew the lead at home and once again made the playoff scenario tougher for themselves. The Ravens road record improved, and they won the Wild Card game in Pittsburgh. They lost to New England in the Divisional Round.
Now we get to this past season, you know, the bad one. The Ravens finished with a record of 5-11, and a 3-5 record at home. Therefore, since the 15 game win streak was snapped (not including the following loss to Denver, victory over the New York Giants, and playoff win over the Indianapolis) the Ravens have a home record of 15-9. While that certainly isn’t a bad home record, it does not portray how tough Baltimore is.
Despite all the success at home, Baltimore has only hosted 5 playoff games and own a record of 3-2 in those games. Of those 5 games, 2 of them were Divisional Round playoff games, and the Ravens split both of them 1-1. While success on the road in the playoffs is good, it’s very important to be dominant at home in the playoffs.
When the road to the Super Bowl runs through your home stadium you control your own destiny. This season, the road to the Super Bowl ran through the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos, the top seeds in their conferences.
When you combine a great defense and a loud home crowd it becomes increasingly difficult for teams to come in and execute their game plan. If you’ve ever been to M&T Bank when the defense is nothing short of a brick wall, you know how loud it gets on third down for the opposing team. I’ve been in the stadium when it was so loud to the point that I couldn’t hear myself screaming.
Noise does have an effect on the road team. Seattle’s Century Link Field is a prime example. Teams have had specially designed ear plugs made so they could battle how loud it gets in the stadium. However those ear plugs did not help teams reach victory in Seattle.
Now of course, stadiums are at their loudest when teams are performing well, something the Ravens did not do in 2015. When the Ravens look to turn it around in 2016, they’re going to need to make M&T Bank Stadium the toughest place to play again, and it starts with defense. Baltimore football has always been about defense. The offense would put up just enough points to win the game and then let the defense go to work.
The Baltimore Ravens have to get back to their roots of putting their helmets on and beating the heck out of the other team for 60 minutes. The Ravens have to let other teams know that when you come to Baltimore it’s going to be a dogfight and that no team is going to come into our house and push us around. We’ve seen how far home success can propel this Ravens team.
This is our home, this is our only way. Will you protect this house?