The Ravens come-from-behind-several-times double-overtime victory last weekend was a playoff performance for the ages. But as much as the team's resiliency may have surprised NFL experts — including announcer Dan Dierdorf who appears to be championing Peyton Manning for canonization — Baltimore fans already understood their team has a unique competitive drive.
The Ravens just don't give in easily. They suffered through a number of major setbacks this year — the season-ending injury to Ladarius Webb — the supposed-to-be season-ending injuries to Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis, to name a few. Oh, and they let their longtime offensive coordinator go a few weeks back.
And now, Ray Lewis' retirement announcement is adding fuel to their fire. The talk this week and the anticipation for Sunday's game has been more about the Ravens' resilency in the face of adversity then X's and O's — and the big question has been how much does Baltimore have left in the tank?
Also, it's interesting to recall that last year the Ravens were 3.5-point underdogs to New England — for a game they could've won except for a Lee Evans' dropped TD pass — and this year, they're 9-point underdogs. But five of the last six games between the two teams have been decided by six or fewer points, generally in the waning seconds, and New England coaches, players and fans certainly remain wary of Baltimore even if the oddsmakers don't.
Here's what they're saying:
Former Patriot linebacker Tedy Bruschi on ESPN.com: "Based on the way the Ravens have played the Patriots in recent years, most recently beating them in the regular season this year, I can see them having a lot of confidence coming into Gillette Stadium. Let's be clear here — what happened this past week was a Houston Texans team that wasn't ready for the moment against the Patriots. That won't happen to the Ravens."
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick at Yahoo!Sports: "They've shown that they can handle difficult situations, whether it's playing on the road, or the double-overtime game last week against Denver, or whatever..."
Patriot quarterback Tom Brady at Boston.com: "It’s always a tight game,” Brady said. “There’s tight coverage, there’s tight throws, there’s tough reads because schematically they do quite a few things. It’s never easy."
Finally, it's interesting highlight a Boston.com poll question this week that asked, "Who has the edge, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco or the Patriots secondary?" — 56.5 percent of the Boston Globe's online audience choose Flacco. Those results can be found here. Torrey Smith garnered 58 percent of the vote in a similar poll question.
When asked who has the advantage, Tom Brady or the Ravens secondary, Brady received 97.4 percent of the vote from Boston area fans.
Of course, it's surprising that New England fans would give Flacco and Smith the edge, but maybe more so that Patriot fans would give Brady such a huge edge — despite their inherent bias.
Have they blocked Brady's seven interceptions versus the Ravens in the last four games from memory?