DAVID GINSBURG, AP Sports Writer
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Far sooner than desired, the Baltimore Ravens cleared out their lockers Monday following a disappointing 8-8 season that ended without a whiff of the playoffs.
“It feels horrible,” safety Lardarius Webb said. “I’ve been sad the last two weeks.”
Fourteen games into the season, the Ravens were still in the running for the AFC North title. But a last-minute loss in Pittsburgh ended that hope, and Baltimore finished with a dud of a performance Sunday in a 27-10 loss to Cincinnati.
And so, for the third time in four years, the Ravens stuffed their belongings into large green trash bags following the regular-season finale.
“It obviously feels good to go into the playoffs and win a game in the playoffs,” quarterback Joe Flacco said.
“But honestly, we’ve had one good year where we felt good at the end of it, and that’s 2012 when we won the Super Bowl. Other than that, we all feel about the same way we feel right now.”
Flacco is the only starting quarterback in NFL history to win a playoff game in each of his first five years in the league. He reached the conference title game three times during that span.
“It doesn’t matter if you get to the AFC championship game in a given year,” Flacco said.
“We still lost, so at the end of the day it’s no better than being 8-8. It’s all or nothing in this league, so at some point you feel pretty crappy about how your year went. There’s one team at the end of the year that doesn’t.”
Still, the Ravens didn’t expect to be in this position after opening the season with three straight wins or after beating Pittsburgh on Nov. 6 to move into first place. That launched a streak in which Baltimore won six of eight, including a 38-6 rout of Miami .
But the Ravens couldn’t close, going 1-3 down the stretch while allowing an average of 28.5 points per game.
“As a team, we didn’t get it done,” safety Eric Weddle said. “There aren’t many positives when you don’t reach your goal of getting in the playoffs.”
Well, there’s always next season.
“We are packing up early, but I think this team is proud of the work that we put in and the effort that we played with,” tight end Dennis Pitta said.
“Sometimes it doesn’t go your way, and we understand that. We have a lot of build upon, though, and a good foundation moving forward.”
The Ravens were better than the team that went 5-11 last season, but linebacker Elvis Dumervil isn’t convinced they’re close to being a contender.
“8-8? No,” he said. “We’ve got a long way to go.”
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