BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 11: Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates with the crowd after the Ravens defeated the Indianapolis Colts 24-10 at M&T Bank Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Going into yesterday's game against the Indianapolis Colts, it appeared that the final score was the only thing that was uncertain. Approaching the game as a must-win in order to not only stay atop the AFC North, but to keep pace in the race for the top seed in the AFC playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens were not about to have one of those not-so-long-ago meltdowns against inferior teams. What remained to be decided would be the final score, not who was going to win and who was going to lose.
That had already been decided 13 weeks ago. These were two teams headed in opposite directions. Regardless of whether Peyton Manning stayed healthy and was playing yesterday, odds were that the Ravens would have still won this game. The Colts are getting older and the Ravens were getting younger,...and better. The infusion of youth combined with the savvy veterans had the Ravens poised to compete for the Super Bowl long before the two teams took the field on Sunday.
Knowing the lack of success the Ravens franchise had suffered over the past decade to the hands of Manning and the Colts, the team had no intentions of ever giving any hope to Indianapolis that they had a chance to stay in the game. Jumping out to a 10-0 lead on their first two possessions, the Ravens essentially ended the game early in the second quarter when they scored again to give them a 17-0 cushion. The combination of the Ravens defense and the Colts offense would make sure that the Colts would never seriously threaten to make a game of it.
Finally ending the losing streak that was not only frustrating in itself, but the added animosity between Baltimore and the city that accepted its stolen beloved Baltimore Colts only exacerbated the need to exorcise the demons that had haunted no just the team, but its rabid fan base, both young and old.
Now that the streak has been ended, the Ravens can return their focus to the task at hand, which is continuing their winning streak, which is now four games and counting. Next up are the San Diego Chargers on Sunday Night Football, who are clinging to playoff hopes, trailing the division-leading Denver Broncos by two games with three to play in the AFC West.
The Ravens have beaten every team they've faced with a winning record in 2011 and while the Chargers are only 6-7, they have a two-game winning streak of their own and will fight to stay alive in the playoff hunt while the ravens will be fighting to keep their playoff positioning fate in their own hands.