The Orioles' remarkable turnaround season after years of losing has made an impression in the Ravens' locker room.
Several players -- including quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Ray Rice and free safety Ed Reed -- were sporting Orioles gear Wednesday.
In particular, Reed has been a big supporter of the baseball team throughout the entire season, well before the Orioles clinched a playoff berth.
"Yeah, man, I watched those guys last night pull out a close one," Reed said while wearing an orange Orioles T-shirt and baseball cap. "Man, to give up one run the whole game, that's big. The pitching showed up last night.
"They've just been playing huge, playing big and finishing right now is the key. Today is the last one. I hope those guys finish on a good note going into the playoffs and win this thing."
The Ravens have made the playoffs for the past four seasons and are the lone NFL team to win at least one playoff game per year during that span with two AFC championship game appearances.
For the Orioles, this season has broken a 14-year streak of losing seasons and represents their first playoff appearance since the 1997 season.
“It’s just amazing being in the same town," Rice said. "Our stadiums are right next to each other. The excitement when you get down there is amazing. It’s like no other. We’ve been pushing our run for the last few years. They know they’ve had greatness within them and now they’re going ahead and doing their thing as well.”
Orioles players have attended several Ravens games, including a Thursday night win over the Cleveland Browns. Among those in attendance were manager Buck Showalter, center fielder Adam Jones and pitchers Jim Johnson and Tommy Hunter.
"You see them guys at our games and the genuine support," Rice said. "So, it’s only great to return the favor, to support our home town. When you’re achieving greatness on your field, it’s great to have moral support from the both of us. It’s mutual respect. We’re all professional athletes.”
Added Flacco, a former high school pitcher from Audubon, N.J.: "It's pretty cool to see the whole city kind of rally around them. Hopefully, they continue to win games and I'm sure it will be a big topic of conversation. I know with me and some of the other guys around the building enjoy baseball, yeah, they've definitely been a topic."
What has set the Orioles apart to Flacco is their ability to perform in the clutch to remain in the hunt all season.
"It's crazy how many close games they're winning," Flacco said. "Obviously, they've won a ton of them and won some extra-inning games and their pitching has been good. The thing I noticed, I feel like they're hitting a handful of home runs every night. I was only able to get to one game this year and they hit a handful that night.
"They've definitely been able to come up in some clutch situations and come out with some wins. I don't know that we've ever seen a team win this many close games before and be as successful at it as consistently as they have. It's pretty impressive."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun