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Ravens Lose A Heartbreaker, Eliminated From Playoff Contention

Baltimore Ravens fall to Cincinnati Bengals 34-17, coming up just short of the playoffs.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

There's not even a need to detail the game. We lost, simple as that. And with that, the Baltimore Ravens miss the playoffs for the first time in the Flacco/Harbaugh era. Sure it hurts, but we have lots of reasons to be happy about this 2013 season. Don't believe me? Let me elaborate.

Heading into the season everyone thought we had zero chance of doing anything. After losing so many key players to free agency, trades, and retirement almost every talking head thought the Ravens would lay down all year. They didn't. Despite our 8-8 final record, this team showed a lot of fight throughout the duration of the entire season. They refused to be what the media identified them as and showed a lot of heart; basking in every victory and learning from every defeat. And that in itself is awesome.

Second, the Baltimore Ravens now have a lot of answers to questions we had before the beginning of the season. Who would emerge as our No.2 WR? Well Marlon Brown has an outstanding rookie campaign (49 receptions, 524 receiving yards, and seven touchdowns in just 14 games) and will almost surely be the favorite to be on the opposite side of Torrey Smith at the beginning of next season. Who would step up on defense? I think the most impressive defensive player this year was Daryl Smith who valiantly filled Ray Lewis' shoes and looked outstanding in his own right. Also, Jimmy Smith took huge strides this season and started to transform into the CB we thought he would be when we drafted him in the first-round a few years ago.

Thirdly, we have a pretty good draft pick now. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe we now have the 18th overall pick. This may seem mediocre to most, but this is a godsend for a draft guru like Ozzie Newsome who will almost surely turn this pick into gold come April. This solid position will only help the Ravens in their effort to retool this team in the offseason.

Fourth, we have a consistent record of making the playoffs plus we just won the Super Bowl last year, so Baltimore will have a ton of appeal to top-tier free agents if the Ravens choose to go down that route in their retooling process.

Fifth, all of the new players the Ravens acquired this previous offseason have had entire season to gel which is beneficial to their chemistry next year. At the beginning of the season the Ravens looked like the Miami Heat did in the first year of their "Big Three" era; a collection of talented players who simply didn't know how to play together just yet. The next season (and the one after that) they came out and dominated the NBA en route to consecutive NBA Finals victories. Moral of the story? Even the best players in the world need time to gel before they can win. Expect to see much more fight and unity from this team next season.

Simply said, it's all a matter of perspective. We can choose to mope around for the next eight months or we can accept this season for what it was; a rebuilding season. Luckily, the Ravens have one of the best front offices in all of football and I fully expect the Ravens to right back in the mix of things next year.

So keep your heads up, Ravens fans. We may have lost today, but I have a feeling this is simply a bump in the road to what will be a bright future for Baltimore.

It's been an honor being part of this community this season and sharing all of the ups and downs of this crazy season with the best fans in the NFL. I expect to see each  and every one of you back here next season (and hopefully in the offseason). So for the final time of the 2013 NFL season, have a wonderful Sunday evening and stay safe. I love all of you guys and will see you next fall!