From extending inside linebacker Ray Lewis’ last hurrah to getting to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2001 to beating a rival in the New England Patriots, the Ravens have plenty of motivation heading into Sunday’s AFC championship game.
But, according to the players, revenge is not one of them.
Yes, the memory of last year’s 23-20 loss to the Patriots in the AFC championship still lingers around town, but strong safety Bernard Pollard did not mince any words when asked if the team has some “unfinished business” to complete in Foxborough, Mass.
“No, because if you call it unfinished business, that means that it is revenge,” Pollard said prior to Wednesday’s practice. “This is part of what we’re doing. This is what we signed up for. In OTAs [Organized Team Activities] and training camp, we said the Super Bowl was our stop. We just don’t want to stop there, we want to win there. With everything that we’re doing, our eye has always been on that Lombardi [Trophy]. It starts with getting past this team. We just want to win.”
Still, it’s not easy to forget about last year’s setback, which was punctuated by safety Sterling Moore’s strip of wide receiver Lee Evans in the end zone and kicker Billy Cundiff’s missed 32-yard field-goal attempt.
While conceding that the memory of that game is in the back of some players’ minds, fullback Vonta Leach said it’s not a topic of conversation in the locker room.
“Every game is its own animal,” he said. “Last year is last year. We don’t even talk about what happened last year. Once we got back into the season, we looked at the film and saw what happened last year, and that was over with.”
Some players may refer to last year’s loss, and that’s fine, according to right guard Marshal Yanda. But he said too much emphasis is being placed on the idea that the Ravens are trying to avenge a wrong.
“That was last year. We’re moving forward,” he said. “Obviously, we all remember what happened last year, but to tell you the truth, every guy handles motivation differently. If a guy needs to think about that to motivate him, yeah, you can use that. However a guy needs to get motivated or get up for a game is fine. Me personally, I’m just worried about playing good football and going out there like we do every Sunday and just executing and making our blocks and keeping [quarterback] Joe [Flacco] clean. That’s about it. There’s no added oomph. You just try your best every week. It doesn’t matter what game it is or what week it is. Now it’s enhanced, but we still have to do our job just like any other week.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun