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Ravens are mentally and physically tough

The Ravens, from Harbaugh down to the lowest man on the roster, demonstrated great mental and intestinal fortitude in their fourth quarter comeback against the Browns.

Maddie Meyer

First things first: proper respect to the Ravens' opponents. The Cleveland Browns displayed great resilience in a game they desperately wanted and needed. They received quality play from their quarterback for most of this game. In truth, they probably should have won because they had the ball twice, with the lead, late in the game.

But they did not win because the Ravens did not let them win.

Baltimore, like last week against Pittsburgh, had nearly every possible thing in the world going against them. The Ray Rice soap opera only becomes more bizarre each day with the latest development casting a strange pall on the team's senior administrative leadership.

However, Ozzie Newsome built a team strong enough to withstand turmoil, to withstand hardship, to withstand a storm -- and John Harbaugh is just the man to lead them through the tempest.

Were the Ravens perfect? No. We all saw the egregious defensive breakdowns. We saw some head-scratching offensive calls and poor execution, especially late in the game. We saw Cleveland make plays of their own. They get paid, too. The Ravens could certainly have lost today and few would have been too surprised.

An NFL game hinges on the preparation of hundreds of men working for thousands of hours for exactly these individual moments in time. Few things are truly the product of luck. Teams just don't come up with blocked field goals in the clutch by total accident -- especially on short chip shots where the ball should be elevated higher to avoid such things.

Teams also don't come up with two straight three and outs in the clutch by accident. Baltimore's defense had too many forgettable plays but their final stands were extremely important. They denied Cleveland from closing the game out in the four-minute offense on two must-have third downs.

Teams also don't produce a fourth quarter comeback against a talented defense that they were largely doing well against all day by accident. The running backs and line should get the game ball even though Flacco and Steve Smith, Sr. came up huge in the final minutes as well. The ground game was producing all day, minus their fourth down failure, and kept the Browns from getting too many possessions of their own.

The Ravens came into their most hostile environment -- yes, worse than Pittsburgh even in terms of raw fan hate -- and came up big with just enough plays in what has been the darkest moment in franchise history to date. While the team will undoubtedly continue to take heat above and beyond other teams dealing with similar player issues, we should not chalk this up as a simple "escape" over the hapless Browns that we let get too close for comfort. That would be an injustice to both the opponent for their performance and the Ravens for their resolve overcoming it all.

In enemy territory with the world unquestionably against you, it speaks tremendously well of the Ravens football leadership and players to earn this win. Don't be so quick to find things to criticize after this one. They're never pretty, they're never perfect, but they are a team of great mental and intestinal fortitude.