The old adage is goes, “Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.” The Ravens won a close football game on Sunday. They won an important divisional game. The snapped a three-game losing streak and got their first win in over a calendar month. Yet, I don’t feel good about things. I don’t feel the sigh of relief fans feel. In short, the win over the Bengals solved nothing. I’m not fooled. This is still not a team that is built to win a post-season game, let alone another Super Bowl.
John Harbaugh tried to sell the media and fans that it was a high point when he said, “Our guys, in a knock-down drag out fight, found a way to win the game. [We] overcame much adversity, overcame a valiant effort, overcame some of our own mistakes. Our guys held strong at the end.” What he really meant to say was, “We got lucky. Very lucky.” M&T Bank Stadium was on the verge of collapse after the Hail Mary conversion by the Bengals. Players were yelling at each other on the Ravens sideline. Baltimore City was at a standstill after the Bengals won the coin toss. And fortunately for the Ravens and the hundreds of thousands of fans and people in and around Charm City, the Ravens came out on top.
The fact is that winning masks a lot of things. If you peel back the layers of the truth, you see that this is a team that still cannot run the ball with any measure of success. They only gained 189 total yards in the game. They only averaged 2.7 yards per play total! Ray Rice only gained 30 yards on 18 carries. The team went 3-for-16 on third down conversions. Hell, the Bengals converted three fourth downs in the game!
The Bengals have now lost two in a row and allowed the Browns and Ravens to stay close to them in the division. But I’m not holding out hope. The Ravens aren’t a good football team. They have holes. They have weaknesses. What’s troubling is that I don’t see any improvement. The next three weeks should be telling. If they go 2-1 and get back to .500, I would feel better than I do right now, especially given the competition – two teams with better records, the Bears and Jets, and a Steelers team that already beat them, which they will face on a short week on Thanksgiving night.
You never apologize for any win in the NFL. I don’t think the Ravens should apologize for their win over Cincinnati. But I don’t think they have turned the corner. We thought that after the Miami win. As The Who once sang, “We won’t get fooled again!”