For half a decade, the Ravens spoiled their faithful fans. With Joe Flacco under center and John Harbaugh wearing the head coach¿s headset, the Ravens went to the playoffs five years in a row, the only team to accomplish that feat over that span.
The Ravens (8-7) need a victory over the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals and a loss by either the Miami Dolphins to the New York Jets or the San Diego Chargers to the Kansas City Chiefs to make the postseason for a sixth straight year.
Following an ugly loss to the New England Patriots, cornerback Jimmy Smith says the Ravens' focus immediately shifted toward a pivotal regular-season finale against the AFC North division champion Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens were embarrassed, 41-7, by the Patriots on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium in the most lopsided loss in the John Harbaugh era. "We've already forgot about it," Smith said. "That's the NFL. Things like that happen. We've moved on to the Bengals."
The Ravens' pivotal regular-season road finale against the Cincinnati Bengals remains at 1 p.m., according to the NFL. The Ravens' kickoff time was unchanged as well as the Miami Dolphins' 1 p.m. game against the New York Jets. The San Diego Chargers play the Kansas City Chiefs at 4:25 p.m. Under the NFL's flex scheduling for the final weekend of the regular season, the Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles game will be played at 8:30 p.m. on NBC.
A 41-7 loss to the Patriots in front of an announced 71,433 at M&T Bank Stadium leaves the Ravens needing help as they head to the final week of the regular season looking to make the playoffs for a sixth straight time.
The Ravens and New England Patriots have been on a collision course since last January, when the Ravens got revenge against their conference rivals en route to the Super Bowl. High-stakes games have defined this budding rivalry.
With playoff stakes and family bragging rights on the line Sunday, it has been an extremely quiet week between the two brothers on opposing sides of the growing rivalry between the Ravens and the New England Patriots.
One of the most anticipated matchups in the AFC championship game in January got shelved when New England Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib left the game with an injured hamstring minutes into the first quarter. That prevented the Patriots from having him shadow Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith all over the field.
Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta became a relative afterthought in the passing game Monday night, an unintentional situation triggered by the Detroit Lions devoting resources to contain him. Pitta was only targeted four times and caught two passes for 24 yards during an 18-16 win over the Lions where he wasn¿t utilized in the red zone. It was one week after he caught a key touchdown pass against the Minnesota Vikings in his first game back after being activated from the injured reserve-designated to return list.
Suggs' understated and reluctant sessions with the media have been season-long occurrences for a player who used to fill reporter's notebooks and willingly provide bulletin board material for the opposition. However, his relative silence on the field has been a much more recent trend.
It will probably feel a little odd when Tom Brady walks behind center for the first time Sunday afternoon. Whenever the Patriots played the Ravens in the past, he would look for Ed Reed lurking in the secondary and he could hear Ray Lewis from across the line of scrimmage barking out commands before the snap.
In an unsurprising choice, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker has been named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after his epic performance Monday night against the Detroit Lions. Tucker connected on a 61-yard game-winning field goal in the final minute of the Ravens' dramatic 18-16 victory at Ford Field. The field goal is the longest in franchise history and the longest in NFL history indoors.
The Ravens' road toward a potential sixth consecutive trip to the postseason just became a lot more difficult following the Miami Dolphins' upset victory today over the New England Patriots. The Ravens (7-6) now have to win Monday night's game over the Detroit Lions to maintain their tiebreaker edge over the Dolphins (8-6) for the sixth and last playoff berth in the AFC.
Though it was pretty obvious a week ago that the Ravens' visit to Detroit for a Monday Night Football matchup against the Lions presented another in a long series of "must-win" situations, the game has gotten progressively more significant as Week 15 has gone along.
Eugene Monroe is assigned the critical job each week of protecting quarterback Joe Flacco's blindside. He's graded out the highest of any Ravens offensive lineman this season and has allowed four sacks and 10 quarterback hurries in eight starts, according to Pro Football Focus.
Ravens fans have been waiting all season for their defending Super Bowl champions to start looking like defending Super Bowl champions, but there really is no way to draw any legitimate parallel between this season and the circuitous route the Ravens took to New Orleans last year.
As snow continues to fall, Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta and several other players are testing their footing and running routes hours before kickoff today against the Minnesota Vikings at M&T Bank Stadium.
The confidence of star Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has kept pace with his rapidly increasing production this year. Gordon has overcome persistent early-season trade rumors, a two-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy and a revolving door at quarterback to emerge as one of the top receivers in the league.
Ravens Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach played four seasons for Gary Kubiak and expressed disappointment after the Houston Texans fired his former coach today. Kubiak was dismissed by owner Bob McNair after the Texans' 11th consecutive defeat Thursday night to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Ravens are bracing for a pivotal encounter against Peterson that represents the greatest test so far for their revamped group of inside linebackers. Since Ray Lewis retired in February, Daryl Smith has stabilized the middle linebacker spot while playing opposite a platooning group of weak-side inside linebackers in Jameel McClain, Josh Bynes and rookie Arthur Brown.