The team that wins the Super Bowl is rarely the one that won the most regular season games and was on cruise control on their way to the playoffs. Champions are forged in the crucible of less than ideal circumstances. They routinely have to fight and claw to gut out wins, and occasionally have a few lucky bounces of the ball in their favor.
Through the first four weeks of the 2021 season, the Baltimore Ravens have done just that on their way to a 3-1 start. Heading into a Week 4 matchup with the undefeated Denver Broncos, they were 2-1 and could’ve been 0-3 or 3-0 after wild finishes in each of their first three games.
The sky appeared to be falling in the eyes of many fans and pundits after they let the Las Vegas Raiders rally back and ultimately win in overtime of their season opener on Monday Night Football.
Hardly anyone gave them a realistic chance against the Kansas City Chiefs the following week. The two-time reigning AFC champions had been a thorn in their side after beating the Ravens in each of their last three meetings dating back to the 2018 season. However, they were able to overcome a horrid start to the game to finally slay what had been the conquering giants, notching their first win of the season and handing Patrick Mahomes his first loss.
After they failed to bury the lowly yet feisty Detroit Lions early in their Week 3 matchup, it took a record-breaking field goal from All-Pro kicker Justin Tucker that bounced off the crossbar of the goalpost to prevent them from falling victim to the proverbial trap game.
Following a scoreless first quarter against the Broncos on Sunday, it appeared as if the Ravens were in store for another back and forth game after the two teams were tied at 7-7 early in the second quarter. However, their defense played lights out for the rest of the game, and Jackson had one of his best passing performances to date, throwing for 300 or more yards for just the second time in his career.
This team continues to deal with a slew of injuries at key positions yet they continue to come out on top. They have proven that they can flip the script on offense from run dominant to a more balanced attack, right the ship on defense, and make the proper adjustments during games to set themselves up for success on both sides of the ball.
Unlike in recent years when they have been healthier and could exert their will on offense and defense, the 2021 Ravens are malleable. They are capable of playing several different styles based on the personnel they have available and the opponent they face in a given week.
While that may sound like what the New England Patriots were for two decades and what every team strives for, this year’s squad has been especially adept at rolling with the punches to make the most out of the cards they are dealt. Whether it is losing all three of their top running backs and an All-Pro cornerback for the year in a 12 day period just before the season or the constant reshuffling on the offensive line due to shorter-term yet still debilitating injures, the Ravens continue to find ways to win.
There is something special brewing in Baltimore with this year’s team. Even though they aren’t the most talented from top to bottom or the healthiest, they are already battle-tested and possess the resiliency and other intangibles to make a deep playoff run. They will get more pieces, like left tackle Ronnie Stanley and rookie wideout Rashod Bateman, back and round into even better shape as the year goes along.
At the end of each year, the team hoisting the Vince Lombardi trophy looks like they were destined for greatness when looking back on the trials and tribulations they had to endure. Their road to glory was long, winding, and turbulent at times. The Ravens’ first month of the season has been all of that and then some, yet they emerged with a winning record and look like arguably the most dangerous team in a seemingly wide-open AFC conference.