By Samuel Njoku
When the Baltimore Ravens left the field on Sunday Night, seconds after laying an egg against the inferior Pittsburgh Steelers, the mood inside the locker room was crystal clear. The Ravens were angry. Not at the Steelers, who celebrated on the field that has been defended without fail for over two years. Not at Mike Tomlin, whose awkward handshake with Coach Harbaugh created a buzz around the league. The anger was directed toward themselves.
Baltimore has been here before, and the players know it. For years, the Ravens have become the bridesmaids of the NFL. The Ravens have always been good enough to compete for the Championship, but since 2001, they’ve never been good enough to win one. And based on their performance on Sunday, it appears as though they may let another chance slip away.
But looks can be deceiving.
The loss against Pittsburgh was a necessary one– a wake up call in many regards. Baltimore was clinging onto their record as an excuse to be mediocre. The Ravens previous record of 9-2 was a blessing more than anything else. But with a loss to their division rival at home, Baltimore looked like a team focused to get the job done.
“It sucks to let this game go,” Ravens safety Bernard Pollard said. “Right now, we’re trying to figure out how….why. Humble pie is on us, and no one likes to eat that. We need to be ready to go. This is a loss we shouldn’t have had. As players, this sucks. This sucks. It’s something we got to deal with until we play next week.”
Pollard understands that Pittsburgh is an inferior unit. Without Ben Roethlisberger, many believed Baltimore should have won with relative ease. But the Ravens kept the other team hanging around. Something he believes has to change.
“We let some things get away,” stated an irate Pollard. We should’ve stepped on the field and choked them out when we had the chance; we just did not do that.”
The Ravens are close to winning a championship. The players can feel it in their bones.
“I know what this team is all about,” said Anquan Boldin after the game. “A loss doesn’t change who we are. We’ll still go out, we’ll win the AFC North, and we’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs.”
Saying it and doing it are two very different things. It’s up to the coaching staff and front office to figure out how to take this team to the next level. The Ravens don’t believe in making huge changes during the regular season. It’s one of the reasons Cam Cameron remains on the coaching staff. His play-calling has cost Baltimore two games this year. With Baltimore unwilling to make a coaching change, the next game he falters on could be their last.
But the blame doesn’t fall on Cameron’s shoulders alone. The Ravens are loosing as a team. The fact remains that poor decisions are beginning to take their toll on this team.
It’s the little things that matter. It’s the little things that cost Baltimore on Sunday. And it’s the little things that’ll cost them a championship if things aren’t corrected. The loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers was a wake up call. It’ll be interesting to see whether Baltimore answers.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.