Maybe before the creation of the salary cap nearly 20 years ago, a loss like this one would be a good indication of where the team was headed.
But that's no longer the motto of the NFL.
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As poorly as the Ravens (2-2) played, Buffalo was almost as horrific which was why an ugly, god-awful game remained competitive until the end. The theory used to be that good teams beat downtrodden ones like Buffalo, which has a first-year coach.
But that doesn't happen anymore.
There will be depression around town Monday morning but where there is disaster, there is hope. And that's why the Ravens' loss was just another Sunday in the NFL.
But there aren't any great teams in the NFL any longer. It has become too watered down, especially in the AFC. Who is the top team now? Denver Broncos? Maybe, but quarterback Peyton Manning won't be the same in January in the cold weather when that old body gets tired.
Pittsburgh, one of the league's model franchises, traveled all the way to England to remain winless against the previous winless Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, and the Cincinnati Bengals, which have more offensive talent than any team in the NFL, lost to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Imagine that. The hottest team in the AFC North is Cleveland and the Browns have won two straight.
"We don't always play well, but we always play hard," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.
That's one of my favorite quotes. Here's another:
"We don't always look pretty, but that's not our style around here," Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco often says.
Translation: "We're inconsistent, inept at times, but so are the rest of the teams in the NFL. But if we play harder, we will win most of our games, even make the playoffs. And if we are lucky, too, win a Super Bowl, just like last year."
The Ravens almost pulled it off Sunday. But Flacco, the $120.6 million man, threw five interceptions. The Ravens rushed only nine times for 24 yards against a team which had one of the worst run defenses in the league.
They committed eight penalties for 59 yards and the Bills ran all over them for 203 yards and had nearly a 13-minute advantage in time of possession. But the Ravens could have won because the woeful Bills had 11 penalties for 99 yards.
They couldn't make the big play like when tight end Lee Smith, wide open, fell down at the goal late in the third quarter, or when receiver Robert Woods could not get his second foot down in the back of the end zone to complete a touchdown pass late in the fourth.
And of course, the Bills tried to choke. They shanked a punt late in the game or committed holding penalties to negate first downs after big runs. There was the fumble by quarterback EJ Manuel late in the game, and then facing a third-and-11 at their own 19 with 2:37 remaining and holding a three-point lead, Buffalo handed off to running back Fred Jackson.
They are losers. The Bills aren't used to winning and they have no killer instinct. That move was nothing more than raising the white flag, but also a sign that the Bills thought the Ravens offense was no threat.