Having lost four of their last five games and in the midst of the worst COVID-19 outbreak experienced by any NFL team this season, the Baltimore Ravens’ playoff hopes appear to be fading fast.
According to this franchise’s history, however, there’s reason to believe Baltimore could yet hoist the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LV, despite a 6-5 record to date.
The Ravens, now in their 25th season since the former Cleveland Browns relocated to Baltimore in 1996, already own a pair of Lombardi Trophies for their victories in Super Bowls XXXV (2001) and XLVII (2013). Neither title journey came easy.
The 2000 squad will always be known for one of the most dominating defenses in the history of the game, but it had to carry one of the worst offenses ever to win a title.
2000 BALTIMORE RAVENS: A BUMPY RIDE
• The Ravens did not score a touchdown in five consecutive games (Weeks 5 through 9).
• The Ravens went 2-3 during the drought, losing the final three games, to fall to 5-4.
• The Ravens won their final seven regular season games to finish 12-4.
• The Ravens defeated the Denver Broncos, at home, in the Wild Card round and then defeated the Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders on the road to reach Super Bowl XXXV.
• The Ravens defeated the New York Giants, 34-7, in Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa, Fl. (Jan. 28, 2001).
The 2012 Ravens nearly collapsed at the end of the regular season, backing into the post-season before catching fire in the playoffs.
2012 BALTIMORE RAVENS: FROM NEAR COLLAPSE TO WORLD CHAMPS
• The Ravens lost four of their final five regular season games to squander a 9-2 start and barely qualify as a wild card team at 10-6.
• They then defeated Indianapolis, 24-9, at home, in the Wild Card round.
• Four weeks after getting pounded at home by the Denver Broncos, 34-17, Baltimore traveled to Colorado and stunned the Peyton Manning-led Broncos, 38-35 in OT, in the Divisional Round (a.k.a “Mile High Miracle”).
• The Ravens avenged a gut-wrenching loss to New England in the 2012 AFC title game, by returning to New England and defeating Tom Brady’s Pats, 28-13, for the franchise’s second AFC crown.
• The Ravens take an early lead and then hold off the San Francisco 49ers for a 34-31 victory in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans (Feb. 3, 2013).
The 2020 Baltimore Ravens are now in the midst of their own five-game tailspin, but this is largely the same team that earned the AFC’s No. 1 playoff seed in the 2019 season.
Although there’s no denying quarterback Lamar Jackson has struggled at times, he still possesses electrifying talent and is the NFL’s reigning MVP. Baltimore had a league high 12 Pro Bowl selection last year, and they started 2019 with 11 2019 Pro Bowlers on their roster.
2020 BALTIMORE RAVENS TAILSPIN
• Despite leading 17-7 at the half and out-gaining the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers 457-221, the Ravens commit four turnovers, and fall 28-24 at home in Week 8.
• The Ravens rebound with a 24-10 road win at Indianapolis to improve to 6-2.
• In driving rains in Foxboro, Ma., the Ravens were upset 23-17 by the New England Patriots.
• The Ravens squander another halftime lead and lose, 30-24 in overtime, to the Tennessee Titans.
• With a steady stream of positive tests, leading to more than 20 players placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the Ravens’ Week 12 game at Pittsburgh is postponed three times, from Thanksgiving night to the following Wednesday afternoon.
• In the long-awaited battle with the Steelers, a depleted Ravens’ roster fought gallantly, but fell short in a 19-14 loss, falling to 6-5.
Yes, Jackson and the offense have regressed a bit in 2020. Has the league caught up to Greg Roman’s offense? Or, did the lack of a normal offseason hinder the development of a team with a stable of young stars?
Usually, the answers to these questions comes down to a mix of all of the above, but the Ravens certainly have the talent, not to mention a favorable closing schedule, to run the table on the regular season and get straight for a postseason push.
Running games and good defenses generally fare well in the playoffs, and Baltimore has both. Of course, the rushing attack will not be what it was with All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley and premier blocking tight end Nick Boyle both on injured reserve. Nevertheless, the Ravens have five more regular-season contests to work on offensive line chemistry and build some much needed momentum.
Getting everyone back and healthy from the COVID list could be the first step towards normalizing things. Rolling over the beleaguered Dallas Cowboys in a contest that will be played on Tuesday could be the spark that catalyzes this team down the stretch. From there, who knows? These Baltimore Ravens just might be poised to repeat a little rags-to-riches history.