Ravens still have look of a winner

Before we get started today, let me go on record as saying this to Joe Flacco: Love the new haircut, dude.

I got a good look at it the other day when you spoke to the media at the Castle. It's definitely you, Joe.

The "faux-hawk" on top with the stripes etched on the side? That's inspired. The outline of New Jersey shaved into the back? OK, that's a little "busy" for my taste. Think I spotted the Vince Lombardi rest stop near your right earlobe, though.

You say the coaches aren't sure how to take your new 'do? So what? They're coaches, for God's sake! They work, like, 18 hours a day and have no life.

Look, those guys think a polo shirt and Dockers are the height of fashion. (Come to think of it, so do I. But at least I know Reagan's no longer in the White House.)

OK, I bring up Flacco's haircut today because it gives us a sense of the Ravens' mood this bye week.

It's probably safe to say the star quarterback — who's not exactly a wild and crazy guy — wouldn't go out and get a full "Jersey Shore" 'do if the mood were grim out at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills

See, lost in all the gloom-and-doom media and fan reaction to Sunday's narrow win over the Buffalo Bills was this: The Ravens feel just fine about themselves right now.

Maybe Anquan Boldin said it best when asked if this team is still in position to achieve all of its goals

"Exactly," the veteran wide receiver said, "and I think that's where you want to be at this point in the season. We would love to be 6-1 or 7-0, but right now we're 5-2. But we're right in the thick of things. We're right at the top . . ."

There's no mystery as to what those goals are, either.

The ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl, something the Ravens — well, some of the chattier ones, anyway — have been saying since their minicamps last summer

So now they have a week off to heal and get away from the game and get crazy haircuts before they prepare to face the Miami Dolphins Nov. 7 at M&T Bank Stadium.

But their fans sure haven't taken any time off from obsessing about all that supposedly went wrong against the Bills.

Oh, I've heard it all week on the sports talk shows. Heard it from Al in Arbutus and Bob in Bel Air and Steve in Severna Park and everyone else with a phone and time to kill.

"How could they give up 34 points to the Bills?!" went the wailing. "What happened to the secondary? Where was the pass rush? Where was Terrell Suggs?"

(I'm telling you, the way the fans have been ripping T-Sizzle, you'd have thought he spent the entire game in a lounge chair sipping iced tea.)

The Ravens have listened to the criticism all week, especially since it seems as if every guy on the roster has a talk show gig of his own.

But every player you talk to has the same answer: Sure, we could have played better against Buffalo. That wasn't the Mona Lisa of performances. But even the good teams throw in a clunker like that at some point. No need to over-react. We're still on track for the playoffs.

They're right, too.

Go ahead, tell me who had a rougher schedule to start the season than the Ravens.

Are you kidding? If you had told the Ravens at the beginning of the season they'd be 5-2 after road games against the mighty Jets, Bengals, Steelers and Patriots, they'd have taken that in a heartbeat.

So it's not the end of the world that they didn't look good in that 37-34 win over the Bills.

In fact, they might have learned a valuable lesson, as Flacco pointed out when asked if there was a benefit to winning close games.

"I think so," he said. "When it comes down to it, you don't panic. You're able to stay calm and continue to play the game like it was the first quarter, and that's what you have to do to be successful in those games.

"You have to amp it up a little bit," he continued, "but you've really got to just stay consistent and play the game as it's been the whole game and let it play out. And I think the more experience we have with that, the better suited we'll be when it comes."

He said something else on the subject, but I missed it.

I was staring at the back of his head, at the outline of New Jersey, where I think I spotted Asbury Park.

Unless that was just another rest stop.


(Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.)

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