Five Things We Learned from the Ravens' 34-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals
Childs Walker shares the ultimate lessons he learned about the 2013 Ravens after their season-ending loss to the Bengals in Cincinnati.
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1. The Ravens made a show of it, but this was always a fatally flawed team( Andrew Weber, USA Today Sports / December 29, 2013 )
When the Ravens rallied from a brutal first half to tie Sunday's game at 17, it seemed possible they would pull out another hard-to-explain victory.
That was the team's modus operandi, if it had one. Weak on offense and vulnerable to big plays on defense, the 2013 Ravens had nonetheless won a series of memorable games with last-second heroics and sheer resilience.
If they had come from 11 down against a Bengals team that hadn't lost at home all season, the result would have fit one narrative about this year's team.
But there was another narrative, one of a substantially reconstructed Super Bowl champion that could never block, run or minimize errors enough to compete with the NFL's best teams.
That narrative ultimately won out as the fatally flawed Ravens became the first of coach John Harbaugh's six teams not to make the playoffs.
Two weeks ago, a sixth straight playoff appearance seemed quite possible, if not likely. But a series of dramatic wins masked the fact that these Ravens never quite fixed what ailed them.
This became glaringly clear against the New England Patriots and the Bengals, two playoff teams that punished the Ravens for their missed blocks, errant throws and coverage miscues.
The Ravens made a show of it in Cincinnati. They usually did this season.
But it was fitting that their run effectively ended with Joe Flacco flinging his helmet on the sideline after the Bengals returned his mistimed throw for a touchdown.
Flacco never found the form that carried the Ravens through the 2012 postseason. Neither did his team.