It didn't seem like it two weeks ago when the Ravens committed five turnovers and allowed more than 200 yards rushing in a loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Ravens didn't make an emphatic statement on Sunday either in a victory over the Miami Dolphins, blowing a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead in 1 minute, 35 seconds and surviving a last-minute field goal attempt.
But as quarterback Joe Flacco took stock of things Wednesday, he was adamant that he likes the progress the Ravens have made.
"Even if it doesn't show up consistently on Sundays that we've gotten better each week, we are and we're going to get healthier," Flacco said. "I think a lot of things are going to come together at one time. We're really working to get better and better and better, and eventually it's going to show."
As the Ravens prepare for Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers (2-2) at M&T Bank Stadium, they remain on solid footing. At 3-2, they are in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC North with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns, a team that they've already beaten.
They are just two weeks away from their bye and they appear to be getting healthier by the day with wide receivers Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown, starting left guard Kelechi Osemele and defensive end Marcus Spears all practicing Wednesday after missing all or most of the Dolphins' game because of injuries.
However, the Ravens still look like a team trying to find some consistency and in search of an offensive identity. With the Houston Texans struggling and the Dolphins still trying to establish themselves as contenders, the Ravens also are without a signature win, albeit at a very early juncture of the season.
The players acknowledged that Sunday would be a great time to find all three of those things with one of the NFL's elite franchises and most dangerous offenses coming into town.
"We just got to pull it all together," fullback Vonta Leach said. "There will be times where things will look great and there will be times where it will not look so great. We know we're going against a good team and a high-powered offense that can put up a lot of points. We got to be ready on our side of the ball to do our thing."
The Packers are off to an uneven start and they are 0-2 so far on the road. But they have a Super Bowl-winning quarterback in Aaron Rodgers who leads an offense that ranks third in yards per game (453.3) and points per game (29.5). Green Bay has scored 28 or more points — a number the Ravens have hit just once this season — in three of its four games, prompting Ravens coach John Harbaugh to say Wednesday, "We will have our hands full."
"They're a Super Bowl caliber team every year," Osemele said.
History is certainly in the Ravens' favor. In parts of six seasons at the helm, Harbaugh is 10-0 at home against NFC foes. The Ravens have won 13 consecutive home games against NFC teams, and 26 of their last 29 regular-season home games overall.
But those trends mean little to the Ravens who are focused on building on the momentum that they generated in the second half against the Dolphins, when the run game finally started to click, resulting in two Ray Rice touchdowns, and the pass rush started to consistently get to young quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
"We haven't been necessarily consistent enough, and we haven't been good enough in a lot of areas, but we've been dealing with a lot," Flacco said. "We put a lot of work in around here. We practice well every week, and there's no way you can go out there and do that week-in and week-out and not have it eventually show up on the field."
Flacco has been right in the middle of some of the offensive instability. He has gotten hit 18 times over the past two weeks, and on Sunday, he'll likely be protected by a different left tackle with the recently-acquired Eugene Monroe expected to start over Bryant McKinnie. Flacco, who has thrown one total touchdown pass in the Ravens' three wins, has dealt with a revolving door of pass catchers and has been unable to lean on a normally solid running game.
Even after gaining 100 yards on the ground in the second half against Miami, the Ravens still rank 27th in the NFL in rushing offense though Rice sees things changing.
"We're right there," he said. "The yards per carry went up last week, and we're looking forward to keep building. There's no need for us to go backward now, and that's going to be huge for us going into this week, especially playing at home."
The defense has performed significantly better since the humbling 49-27 loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 1, a game where Peyton Manning threw seven touchdown passes. But the four offenses that they've faced since rank 16th, 19th, 21st and 26th respectively in points per game.
The Ravens' defensive players have long grown tired of talking about that Broncos' game, but the comparisons are inevitable with Green Bay and Denver featuring similar offensive personnel, from the elite quarterbacks to the three game-breaking wide receivers to the athletic tight ends.
Defensive end Arthur Jones denied that the Packers will serve as a "measuring stick" for the Ravens. However, the defense certainly could put the Broncos' performance to bed by containing an explosive Packers' offense.
"Week 1 was Week 1," Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith said. "Everybody wants to talk about it. I think we're playing a lot better. ... . We know that this is a tough week, and we've got a very hard opponent this week."
Baltimore Sun reporter Aaron Wilson contributed to this articleCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun