Ravens enter the stretch run

Written by on November 30, 2011 in Featured, Ravens - No comments

Earlier this season, Ravens coach John Harbaugh stressed the importance of his team dealing with both the good and the bad.

The Ravens beat Pittsburgh twice, and then lost to dismal teams the following week. Photo by Phil Hoffman/Baltimore Ravens

They’ve surely seen their fair share of of both. They have beaten their nemesis, the Pittsburgh Steelers, twice. They have beaten some other upper-echelon teams like the 49ers and Texans. And they have dropped three decisions they had no business losing.

Harbaugh’s squad has coped with outside criticism even when it’s winning, and the players have been able to rise the occasion when one of their own succumbs to injury.

The Ravens now have five games left on their schedule as they enter the home stretch of the gauntlet that is an NFL season.

“As long as we always keep the game plan in our grasp and do what we do best, play Ravens football, feed every defense a lot of (Ray) Rice, then I think we’ve got a good chance of making a good run at this thing,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “But when we get away from ourselves, that’s when you never know what’s going to happen.”

This Sunday at Cleveland, the Ravens will again try to avoid losing to a team with a sub-.500 record following a big win over a top-tier opponent. Harbaugh likes to downplay other teams’ records, but he understands how important it is for Baltimore to go into Cleveland and take care of business.

“We’ve got to conquer a demon in Cleveland,” Harbaugh said. “You guys (the media) know what that is. You’ve all written about it extensively.”

The Ravens have won two road games, against a St. Louis and Pittsburgh. Losses to Tennessee, Jacksonville and Seattle all came away from M&T Bank Stadium. The demon Baltimore hopes to conquer will be in play Sunday in Cleveland, and again for three of the Ravens’ remaining five games.

One statistic in Baltimore’s favor is that Cleveland is 2-4 at home. The Browns have lost to that same St. Louis team the Ravens defeated 37-7 in Week 3. The Browns haven’t posed much of a threat to anyone as injuries have decimated what was supposed to be a strong rushing attack.

But you never know in the NFL, and the Ravens have proved that this season. December football begins this Sunday. Those that succeed in December make things easier in January.

Since Harbaugh arrived to Baltimore in 2008, he’s been to three consecutive postseasons and has posted road wins in each of them. Harbaugh has yet to coach a home playoff game, which is something his players want to do for him to make a Super Bowl run easier.

by Jason Butt
sports@baltimoreguide.com

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