Ravens must improve on road to sustain momentum
The Baltimore Ravens showed their resiliency against the
Minnesota Vikings, rallying three times in the fourth quarter to
squeeze out another close victory at home.
They defending Super Bowl champions will need all of that
resolve to survive a very difficult schedule down the stretch.
With a three-touchdown flurry over the final 125 seconds Sunday,
the Ravens beat Minnesota 29-26 for their third straight win – all
at home. The victory kept Baltimore (7-6) in front of Miami, San
Diego and the New York Jets in the race for the final AFC wild-card
Next up: A visit to Detroit for a Monday Night duel against the
”It’s going to be tough. We’ve got to be ready, we’ve got to be
at our best,” coach John Harbaugh said Monday. ”We’ll have to
play the best we’ve played all year.”
That’s because Baltimore is 6-1 at home and 1-5 on the road –
the lone win coming at Miami on Oct. 6. Following the game in
Detroit, the Ravens host New England before closing out the regular
season in Cincinnati.
It’s not an easy path, and the first step is particularly
dangerous. The Lions lead the NFC Central and are 4-2 at Ford
Field, a domed stadium filled with enthusiastic fans.
At least it will be dry, unlike snowy M&T Stadium on
”I don’t think indoor, outdoor means much. For us, it won’t
matter,” Harbaugh said. ”We’ve been in weather; I don’t think
we’ve been in a dome yet. The crowd noise is going to be a factor.
It’s Monday Night Football. It’s going to be loud. It’s a hugely
important game for both teams.”
The last time the Ravens played in a dome, they beat the San
Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. That, however, was a neutral
setting. The last time Baltimore was the visiting team in a dome,
the Houston Texans administered a 43-13 lashing in 2012.
Winning on the road, in good weather or bad, has been the
Ravens’ biggest challenge this year. The trend began with a 49-27
defeat in Denver, followed by a 23-20 defeat in Buffalo. The win at
Miami was followed by a 19-16 loss at Pittsburgh, a 24-18
disappointment in Cleveland and a 23-20 overtime defeat in
Asked to explain the disparity in his team’s play, Harbaugh
said, ”I think we’ve won the close games at home and we haven’t
won them on the road. That’s the bottom line. We’ve done the things
we needed to do to win tight games at home and we haven’t done the
things we’ve needed to do on the road. It’s us.”
Baltimore nearly let a home win get away Sunday, blowing leads
of 7-6, 15-12, 22-19 in the fourth quarter. Although the defense
has played well this season, it’s had a problem closing out a solid
”I’m concerned about it. That’s the biggest issue we have right
now on defense,” Harbaugh said. ”That’s something we have to be
better at, just doing the right things in those situations.”
At least the Ravens have momentum. Sure, their longest winning
streak of the season was the product of a three-game homestand, but
Baltimore is back over .500 for the first time since the Miami
”We’re starting to get healthier. We’re starting to put it
together as a team,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. ”We just need
to start putting it together for a full 60 minutes and see where it
Linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who leads the team with 9 1/2 sacks,
was inactive against the Vikings with a sprained left ankle but
could be ready for the Lions, Harbaugh said.
Wide receiver Brandon Stokley left Sunday’s game with a
concussion, and there’s some question as to whether he will be
ready next Monday night.
”He’ll go through the concussion protocol,” Harbaugh said.
”We’ll have to see how it shakes out. Unfortunately, he’s had a
number of those in his career, so it could be problematic for
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