The Baltimore Ravens are the only team in the NFL to make the playoffs in each of the past five years. It's hard to argue with the combination of head coach John Harbaugh, QB Joe Flacco and RB Ray Rice, as together they have played extra games every year they've been together.
However, make no bones about it, the Ravens have earned this streak over the course of 16 games each year. Sure, there have been bumps and obstacles along the way, but at the end of the regular season, here they are again, getting ready to play this coming weekend while 20 other teams sit home and watch with pigskin envy.
At the same time, there's always that saying in the backs of everyone's mind, "always a bridesmaid, never a bride." Meaning, it's nice to get to the playoffs, but it would be nicer to end with the ultimate goal. Don't take this streak for granted, Ravens fans, as we should all still remember the feeling of sucking it up big tine in 2007, the last year this team tanked in the regular season, waiting for the mercy of the end of the year.
The Ravens were considered among the top teams in the league in 2006, but 2007 saw the bottom fall out in so many areas, leading the end of Brian Billick's coaching position and the start of the Harbaugh era. Add in that 2006 season, and Baltimore has made the playoffs six of the past seven years, an amazing streak.
Looking back to their Super Bowl year of 2000-01, the Ravens have made the post season in nine of the 13 seasons, an even more incredible streak considering there are those teams that have either made it once or twice or even not at all. Not too many teams have enjoyed this type of consistent success, yet Ravens fans still are a frustrated lot since the Lombardi Trophy has remained elusive since 2001.
Is this the year they shock the world as they did over a dozen years ago? Perhaps not, as their road to the post season appears to be as tough as it was back then, if not even tougher. However, Baltimore fans should be thrilled that this city has produced playoff teams in both football and baseball for the first time since....well, a long, long time.
In fact, to be specific, the last time the city of Baltimore had an NFL and MLB team in the playoffs was 1971, when the Baltimore Colts made the playoffs and the Baltimore Orioles went to the World Series. Unfortunately, the Orioles lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games and the Colts lost to the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship Game.
(Ironically, in order to find that last Colts fact, I had to check the schedule of the Indianapolis Colts as the Ravens schedule only goes back until 1996.)
So before you think that the Ravens are in a bad way, headed into the post season losing four of their past five games, which is a tough trend to be too confident of their ability to make it all the way this year, remember that once you make the post season, anything can happen once you get there.
The key phrase that has been the basis of the Ravens success remains, "once you get there." That, the Ravens do well. Very, very well.