Maybe the Ravens just can’t handle prosperity.
The Ravens’ best record prior to this season was 2006, when they finished 13-3 and were seeded second in the playoffs behind 14-2 San Diego.
Steve McNair was brought in at quarterback, replacing Kyle <shudder> Boller. He was throwing to a decent trio of receivers in Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton and Todd Heap, while Jamal Lewis was still an adequate running back.
The defense had players like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Bart Scott, Adalius Thomas, Terrell Suggs and Chris McAlister. It allowed the fewest points in the league (201).
The Ravens biggest margin of defeat was 10 points; 13-3 to the Denver Broncos. The other losses were by two points to the Carolina Panthers (23-21) and six to the Bengals (13-7).
Then, after a first-round bye, in what prior to last weekend was the Ravens’ darkest day, they lost. To the Indianapolis Colts. While not giving up a touchdown. 15-6.
(You know, despite the stunner of losing to the Titans, that still may be the Ravens’ darkest day. I mean, the Colts. Who then rubbed it in by going on to win the Super Bowl.)
The 12-4 second-seeded Ravens of 2011 won their divisional round game, only to set up a devastating loss at New England (dropped touchdown pass in the final minute, followed by a missed field goal that would have sent the game into overtime).
The 12-4 2010 Ravens had to settle for a third seed, then lost at Pittsburgh after holding a 21-7 halftime lead.
On the other hand, both of the Ravens’ Super Bowl runs came out of nowhere.
The 2000 Ravens were coming off of an 8-8 season and had never had a winning season in their then-short history.
They finished 12-4 behind a record-setting defense, but had to settle for the wild card because the ... Tennessee Titans ... were 13-3 (we were both in the AFC Central Division back then).
Despite the defense, the Ravens were given little chance at Tennessee in the playoffs ... then were given little chance at Oakland in the AFC conference title game ... and many even felt they would lose to the Giants in the Super Bowl.
(Trust me on this; I just watched all four playoff games from that season last week.)
The 2012 title was even more unlikely. The ravens only made the playoffs at 10-6 because of Ray Rice’s epic fourth-down conversion against san Diego.
Trailing 13-10 with two minutes remaining and facing fourth and 29 (!!), Rice took a short pass over the middle and broke/evaded several tackles to get the first down. Barely.
The Ravens would kick a tying field goal, then win the game in overtime.
If Rice doesn’t get those 29 yards, the Ravens lose, finish 10-6 and don’t make the playoffs. No miracle long touchdown pass against the Peyton Manning Broncos, no satisfying crushing of the Patriots at New England, and no beating Colin Kapernick’s 49er’s in the Super Bowl.
Prosperity doesn’t sit well with the Ravens. They need to be underestimated. They need to be doubted.
Considering what happened last week, the Ravens should be heavily doubted in next year’s postseason.
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I’m not as confident about Clemson as I’ve been the past few weeks.
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I’m also still not confident about the Packers winning in San Francisco. But, hey, if a sixth-seeded team that barely finished above .500 can knock off the league’s best team ...