The Baltimore Ravens Need To Reclaim Their Swagger
The Baltimore Ravens Need To Get Back Their Edge
In the 2000 playoffs the Baltimore Ravens faced the Tennessee Titans. PressBox did an article featuring the top 20 Ravens quotes of all time. The top one was by Brian Billick and it hits home to my thesis. This is that famous quote from Billick.
"“When you go in the lions den you don’t go tippy toe in. You carry a spear, you go in screaming like a banshee, you kick whatever doors in and you say, ‘Where’s the son of a bitch!’ If you go in any other way you’re going to lose.”"
The Ravens marched into Tennessee and dismantled the favored Titans team.
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As the Ravens continued onward to the Super Bowl, Billick’s iconic sound bite became the Ravens way. The Ravens always were the most aggressive and relentless team. It did not matter if the purple and black were the underdog. It didn’t matter who the Ravens were against. All that mattered was that the Ravens were coming and they were tougher than you.
The edge that the Ravens had was still strong at the start of the Harbaugh era. With a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback, the Ravens went 11-5 and went to the AFC Championship game. They won a gritty playoff game in Tennessee 13-10. In one of the most physical contests the Ravens out muscled a Titans team that beat them in the regular season.
In 2009 the Ravens had a playoff game in New England. At this point, road teams simply lost up in Foxboro. This was a playoff game against the legendary Tom Brady, This was a game against a team that everyone thought was going to march into the Super Bowl. The Ravens did not give any credence to the perceived might of the Patriots. On the first play the offensive line plowed a rushing lane open for Ray Rice; who went 83 yards down the field for the opening touchdown.
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The Ravens rushed for 234 yards in that game. They out powered the Patriots from the first snap to the last. The Ravens had three sacks and three interceptions against Brady. It was dominance and it was personal. When the Ravens knew from the very first snap that they would dominate the game.
Fast forward to the Ravens Super Bowl season in 2012. That Ravens team dragged their way into the NFL Postseason. After three straight losses and the firing of offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron, it looked bad. The Ravens simply found a way. Much like Ray Rice’s 29 yard fourth down conversion, the Ravens simply found a way.
This is a team that put it in their mind that they were not losing. When Ray Lewis announced that the 2012 season would be his last, it gave the Ravens an unbelievable boost. They won a game in Denver in which no analyst gave them a chance to win. Betting on the Ravens in that game was like betting on the biggest underdog ever. It took a 70 yard Hail Mary, two overtimes and they put their fans through every emotion imaginable, but the Ravens won.
Its easy to say that the Ravens lost their swagger when Ray Lewis and Ed Reed left. The problem is that the Ravens waltzed into Pittsburgh in 2014, and won a playoff game. While Ray and Ed helped build it, they did not take the Ravens culture with them. The Ravens swagger went on the road to New England and pushed the eventual Super Bowl champs to the brink of elimination.
As seen on NFL Sound FX, Terrell Suggs pointed to the crowd and said “When they see us, We’re the bad guys.” Suggs and the Ravens have always reveled in this mindset. I refuse to think that it is lost. I refuse to think the Ravens that I grew up watching are gone. Play like a Raven means knocking the doors down and refusing to walk away with a loss.
In 2015 the Ravens lost close games and made it an art form. They lost in the most gruelingly close games possible. The Ravens just did not have that mental edge. Maybe the constant injuries and bad breaks deflated it.
Maybe the Ravens gave into human nature and let their situation get the best of them. But we saw that spark when they upset the Steelers in December. It was another game the Ravens had no business winning. The Ravens were on their fourth quarterback going against Big Ben Roethlisberger. The Ravens secondary was lacking, the Steelers arsenal was not. The Ravens made that their stand. It was the one game that could give themselves some pride. Against all reason, logic and probability the purple and black squashed the playoff bound Steelers.
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That famous Ravens swagger is not lost. The flame has not burned out. The Ravens just have to remember who they have always been as a football team. They have to reclaim their swagger.