Monday, January 2, 2012

Ravens Super Bowl Chances Better than Before

When coach John Harbaugh took over as the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, fans were expecting a rebuilding year. The team had just finished a disappointing season where they were 5-11 even giving the Miami Dolphins their only win. After the former head coach Brian Billick was fired, the city wanted a coach who had an opportunity to win for years. Not only was the head coach a rookie, but the Ravens had also drafted Joe Flacco the quarterback from the University of Delaware. At the time, the Ravens still had Kyle Boller and Troy Smith on the roster. When Harbaugh began training camp, he indicated that it would be an open competition. During the training camp, Boller became injured. Shortly after his injury that would have him out for the season, Smith would be sidelined with tonsillitis. That meant only one was left. Joe Flacco. Flacco was told to go in there and manage the games. Not only would he manage a win in week one, but Flacco would lead the Ravens to an 11-5 season, only to fall short to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship. However, getting two road playoff victories was an incredible accomplishment from a rookie quarterback. Not to mention, coach Harbaugh had never coached anything outside of special teams in his career.

Year two, the city believes after coming within one game of reaching the Super Bowl that the Ravens make it to the next level. Although they was not hit by a bad case of the sophomore curse, The Ravens 2009 season will forever be described as a series of nearly even wins and losses as they finished 9-7 For Harbaugh and Flacco to be successful in Baltimore, they had to what they did not do all season the previous year, beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. But on Sunday Night Football in front of the world, Flacco utilizing his best offensive weapon, Ray Rice to drive down field and defeat the division rival in overtime. However, there were still some non believers, since Steelers starting quarterback Ben  Roethisberger   was sidelined due to injury. As the Ravens reached the playoffs, they had to begin their journey on the road for the second consecutive year. This time, they would be faced with the impossible task of defeating Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at home. But on the first play of the game, Ray Rice scored a 83 yard touchdown which set up the day for a Ravens domination over the Patriots. Riding high off that victory, the Ravens had another tough quarterback to get ready for, Peyton Manning. The last time the Ravens faced the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs, they were home and in a 15-6 losing effort they were able to prevent them from scoring a touchdown. But the Ravens, they would not have that luck twice as they lost 20-3.

The 2010 season was said to finally be the year. They improved, finishing 12-4. Flacco and Harbaugh each had three playoff victories under their belt and now adding more weapons at the wide receiving core, Flacco would be able to utilize his arm to the fullest. The Ravens added pro bowlers Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmanzadeh. Another thing going in the Ravens favor, the Steelers starting quarterback, Roethisberger was suspended for his off season actions for the first four weeks. And the Ravens had to travel to Pittsburgh during that time. As the Ravens were able to defeat the Steelers at home after a game winning pass from Flacco to Houshmanzadeh, fans knew that they Joe finally had weapons. But later in the season when Big Ben returned, Flacco still could not beat him. As the Ravens finished the season, they was still behind the Steelers therefore would have to go on the road in the playoffs yet again. The Ravens easily defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, but after having a 21-7 lead at half time, the Ravens collasped in the second half and again Flacco is and Harbaugh are defeated by Big Ben.

As the 2011 season approached, the Ravens had a few veterans who are looking to the end of the road and need one more thing to add to their accomplishments, the Lombardi trophy. Finishing the season 12-4, the Ravens finally had won the division. They even accomplished an incredible feat of going undefeated in the division. Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs both players who have been dominant at their positions, and have multiple pro bowl appearances, but have never reached the Super Bowl. During the off season, Steelers linebacker, Lamar Woodley said that the Ravens would never win a Super Bowl with Joe Flacco as their quarterback. In week 1, the Ravens hosted the rival Steelers. With the Steelers being the team that the Ravens last faced, the Ravens came out flying high in a 35-7 week one blow out. The Ravens would face the Steelers again in week 9 and after Joe Flacco delivered a game winning touchdown pass to rookie Torrey Smith, the Ravens for the first time since 2006 had swept the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens yet going 4-4 on the road, went 8-0 at home for the first time in franchise history. Ray Rice also added to the history booked, scoring 15 touchdowns, the most by any Raven. Each loss came from a non playoff team. With the team receiving a bye week, the Ravens will be fresh as they await for a visitor to M&T bank Stadium!

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