Mark Zinno: Ravens Reactive – Don’t Call The Ravens ‘A Team Of Destiny’
I’ve never been much of a “destiny” guy. I don’t believe in the whole “this is a team of destiny” deal. That’s for fans and kids in high school. I try not to get caught up in the emotion of things because it clouds objectivity. I have been trying to objectively figure out what the Ravens are for the last two months. I’ve failed. And after watching the last three games and manner in which they have won them, I can come to one conclusion. The Ravens are destined to make the post-season. That’s all the matters.
I’ve always held to the maxim that the only expectation NFL fans should have of their team is that they make the playoffs. Any way. Any how. Just get there. After that, things are on a different level. Coming off their Super Bowl win and an aggressive off-season, the Ravens, and their fans had high expectations. Following a 4-6 start and some ugly statistical numbers, it looked like the Ravens were headed for a long off-season. But the NFL’s “cardiac kids” have won in dramatic fashion the last three weeks and thanks to the Bengals being the Bengals, the Ravens need just two more wins to clinch the AFC North. Now mathematically the Ravens could still miss the post-season, but given what this team has done this year, how can you count them out?
John Harbaugh said after Justin Tucker’s 61-yard game-winning field goal over the Lions that the Ravens are “a team of faith.” I can buy faith a heck of a lot more than destiny. Harbaugh can say that with conviction because the faith he has put in the players on this team has been unwavering. They have rewarded him. From Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones to Tucker and his powerful and consistent leg, Harbaugh gambles and his players win. “We believe. We trust. And because of that we will fight. We will run the race right down to the end,” Harbaugh said. The end is two more games against tough opponents in the Patriots at home and the Bengals in Cincinnati. And if they win them, people can invoke destiny all they want, I will stick with players making plays down the stretch to help win football games.
Now objectively, this team still has holes and flaws. But almost every team does. Can the Ravens continue to flirt with danger and late game heroics? It’s really hard to doubt them as of late. But the critical difference is winning IN the post-season is entirely different. Teams are too good. There is too much on the line in every game. Living dangerously usually doesn’t last that long through the NFL playoffs. You can make the argument that the Ravens won their last four games over four teams NOT going to the post-season. They have been winning more with field goals than touchdowns. That’s probably not sustainable in the playoffs against better teams.
Still, the Ravens have been impressive over the last month and people are talking about how this is a team you don’t want face in the playoffs. They are experienced, professional and well coached. They have the right people in the right spots – a top-notch quarterback, a can’t-miss kicker and a head coach that has coached in a lot of tough games over the past few seasons. I still don’t believe in destiny, but the Ravens have every believing in them right now.
Follow me on Twitter @MarkZinno