The Baltimore Ravens started the season with two wins against divisional rivals in the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. In those two games, Baltimore had ten takeaways, harkening back to a defense of yesteryear (2000 to be exact).
Then, the Ravens were exposed in London by a hungry Jacksonville Jaguars team. They were beaten senselessly, losing the game 44-7, with the only touchdown coming from a Ryan Mallett pass to tight end Ben Watson in garbage time.
Starting quarterback Joe Flacco was abysmal. He went 8-for-18 with just 29 yards passing. To make matters worse, Flacco also threw two interceptions, having a passer rating of 12.0.
One week later against their arch-nemesis, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens laid another egg. Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell rushed the ball 35 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Baltimore lost 26-9 to Pittsburgh, in a game that would’ve allowed them to climb past Pittsburgh in the division. Dropping two consecutive games, Baltimore sat at 2-2 and looked lost.
Baltimore came back to defeat the Oakland Raiders, going back to a more balanced attack on offense. They wouldn’t be able to replicate that same success against the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings, losing two straight games once again.
In last Thursday’s matchup against the Miami Dolphins, it looked as if the Ravens have had enough. They played angry, drove through contact on offense and played one of the most complete games in franchise history.
To defeat the Dolphins 40-0 is big, because they are one of the teams ahead of Baltimore in the AFC Wild Card race. Baltimore has a 4-4 record and sits at seventh place in the AFC. Miami is 4-3 and currently holds the sixth and final playoff spot. The 5-3 Buffalo Bills have the first wild card spot.
There is no time better than now for Baltimore to strike. As mediocre as the Ravens have looked at times this season, they have shown they can pitch a perfect game. Now, against the AFC South-leading Tennessee Titans, the Ravens can possibly claim the final AFC Wild Card spot before heading into their bye week.