OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — It’s almost impossible to get an accurate read on the Baltimore Ravens, whose fluctuation from exceptional to awful is now happening on a half-to-half basis.
The Ravens (5-2) have routed the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets and Houston Texans. They’ve also lost to Tennessee and Jacksonville, team’s with a combined 6-9 record.
Baltimore’s strange Jekyll and Hyde personality came to the forefront on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. After falling behind by 21 points in the second quarter, the Ravens scrambled to pull out a 30-27 win over a team that has now lost six straight.
Coach John Harbaugh said Monday there’s no mystery to the Ravens.
“When we play good fundamental football, we’re a good football team. It comes down to that,” he said. “It’s technique, it’s attention to detail, it’s getting a little momentum. That sure helps you on offense, when you get the chains moving and make a couple first downs.”
The Ravens had none of that last Monday in Jacksonville, when they failed to get a first down before halftime and lost 12-7.
Against the Cardinals, Baltimore’s six first-half possessions were: punt, field goal, turnover, punt, turnover, field goal.
“It doesn’t feel too good when you go out there and you’re not playing well as an offense and not putting points on the board,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “We’ve been inconsistent.”
After halftime, however, Baltimore outscored Arizona 24-3 to complete the greatest comeback in the history of the franchise.
Next up: A rematch on Sunday night with the Steelers (6-2), who have won six of seven to regain first place in the AFC North.
“We know how to play that game, they know how to play that game,” Harbaugh said. “We looking forward to it, I do know that.”
The Ravens can’t afford to play as they did in Jacksonville or in Tennessee, and they can’t expect to win if they put themselves in a 21-point hold at Heinz Field.
“It’s going to be intense,” linebacker Jameel McClain said.
When the offense has struggled at times this season, the defense has been supportive. So after Flacco lost a fumble and threw an interception in the first half, although the fickle fans in the stadium began to boo Flacco, the only screaming on the sideline was encouragement.
“The sentiment was basically we are a team, and we’ve got team players,” Harbaugh said. “The consummate team player does not criticize one another, does not point fingers at one another, we don’t blame one another. That’s not what a team does. A team trusts one another, believes in one another, supports one another, has each other’s back. When you do that, guys are going to come through. Our guys are very mature about that.
“When you build a team, the kind of team we’ve built, you can withstand adversity. Stay together, hang together, play together, try to find a way to win. Whether it’s within a game or from one week to the next. To me, we’ve proven as a team that’s one thing we’re very good at.”
To their credit, the Ravens never panicked.
“It’s about us understanding what we have to do,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “We’re fighters. We’re warriors. Anytime you see teams do down 21 points, 27 points, they give up. We struggled, but we came together as a team. We fixed what needed to be fixed, as far as the first half, and we shut them down.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)