The Ravens arrived at Nissan Stadium on Sunday with a chance to turn their season in one direction or the other.
They were still stinging from their loss to the Cleveland Browns last week and it couldn’t have made them feel any better to know that the Browns went right back to being the Browns earlier in the day in an ugly 38-14 home loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Don’t kid yourself. The Ravens can say that every week is a new week, but a game like last week’s 12-9 overtime loss leaves everyone questioning everything, just as a game like Sunday’s resounding 21-0 victory over the Tennessee Titans leaves all of us to wonder if a team that looked so bad seven days earlier might really be this good.
The answer is probably no, but only because it will be a long, long time before the Ravens defense sacks a mobile quarterback a club-record 11 times again, and it was the first time the Titans have been shut out at home … ever.
Those are anomalous things that make it difficult to draw any hard-and-fast conclusions about where the Ravens are at this early point in the season and where they’ll be after they host the New Orleans Saints at M&T Bank Stadium next week.
This is a team that went into Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers — which is never easy — then stumbled out of Cleveland and rose again like a fiery football phoenix to thoroughly dominate a team that also was coming off an embarrassing loss and needed to turn the same corner.
How can a team be so high one week, so low the next and look like it’s on top of the world after its third straight road game?
“It’s the NFL, man,’’ said veteran safetly Eric Weddle. “That’s why as you get older you never take for granted wins, right, and how much it really takes to get a win in this league. It’s hard to do. Teams are so good. The difference between winning and losing is very minute when you get into the game.”
There were all sorts of reasons why the Ravens should have been particularly motivated Sunday. They obviously wanted to get to 4-2 and rejoin the Cincinnati Bengals at the top of the AFC North standings. Joe Flacco and the offense wanted to end a string of seven straight quarters (and one overtime period) in which they failed to score a touchdown. The defensive guys were playing in front of their old coordinator Dean Pees for the first time.
They succeeded on all fronts, but Weddle wanted to keep it simple and went right back to Cleveland, where the Ravens were forced to face the possibility that they might not be as good as advertised.
“We lost an opportunity last week and we just wanted to come back,’’ Weddle said. “We had a great week of practice. The coaches stayed the course. They believe in us and we believe in them, so it was nice to come out here and play Raven football. Everyone counted us out last week and rightfully so. We lose on the road to a team that played well, but then they get blown out today. We wanted to move past that and play well and get to 4-2.”
The Ravens certainly did all that and probably should be satisfied with two victories after the rare three-game road stretch.
“You’d have loved to be 3-0 on this trip, [and] we probably feel we should’ve been, but we didn’t deserve it,’’ coach John Harbaugh said. “We didn’t play well enough. We didn’t coach well enough. But, to be 2-1 in this trip and to be 4-2 after the four road games, that’s where you want to be.”
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
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