Five Things We Learned from the Ravens' 22-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers
Childs Walker delivers all the fixings he took home from the Ravens' Thanksgiving night victory over the rival Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.
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1. The Ravens' season is alive and well( Patrick Smith, Getty Images / November 29, 2013 )
Well, it was never going to be pretty. Nothing is with this team. But the Ravens absolutely had to win on Thanksgiving to retain realistic hopes of a wild-card berth. And they did, perhaps putting themselves in the strongest position of any contender for the AFC's sixth playoff spot.
I've said from early in the season that resilience has been the overlooked trump card for the Ravens in the era of John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco. No matter how helpless they look in stretches, no matter how painful a loss they suffer, they never quit on games and they never quit on seasons.
The Ravens' scrap might not mean a whole lot if they weren't competing with an armada of deeply flawed teams. But you play the season that's in front of you, and the bottom line is the Ravens now have a very good chance to extend their streak of postseason appearances to six.
Their weaknesses -- sub-par running, sloppy offensive line play, a pass rush that's a lot less frightening against top quarterbacks -- were plenty evident against Pittsburgh. Those problems will likely limit their ceiling, even if they do make the playoffs.
Just know that in a lot of NFL cities, this season would have gone off the rails weeks ago. In Baltimore, we enter December talking playoffs. Again.
So how does the road ahead look? The Ravens now get a much-needed 10 days off to prepare for a home game against the floundering Minnesota Vikings. They obviously can't afford a letdown in that one, because post-Vikings, they face a tough closing run against the Detroit Lions, New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals.
On the plus side, they hold a significant advantage over the Steelers. The Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers also face tough closing schedules. And the Ravens hold tiebreaker advantages over the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets.
The Ravens will have to win one and possibly two of their last three, and they'll likely need to sweat while watching games involving other contenders. But they have set up a realistic path to the postseason.