Having never missed the playoffs under head coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco, expectations of a trip to the Super Bowl have become a reasonable goal over the last few seasons. Fans and ownership alike were hoping that this would finally be the year the Baltimore Ravens broke through the barrier and reached the proverbial promised land in New Orleans.
The Ravens started the season off well, winning four of their first-five games. In Week Six against the Dallas Cowboys; the defense suffered a major blow, losing Pro Bowl cornerback Lardarius Webb to a torn ACL and team captain, linebacker Ray Lewis to a torn triceps muscle. Despite this, they were able to hang on and win 31-29. The Following week, with an obviously short-handed defense, the Ravens took a 43-13 drubbing at the hands of the Houston Texans.
After the bye week, Baltimore was able to adjust to the losses on the defensive side of the ball, but after routing the Oakland Raiders 55-20, things started to go poorly for the offense. Baltimore was still able to win it’s next two games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers, but only by three points each time. A week later they lost by three points to the Steelers and followed that up with a 31-28 loss to the Washington Redskins.
After the loss to the Redskins, then-offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was fired and replaced by Jim Caldwell. The move didn’t look to make much of a difference initially, with the team losing it’s next game to the Denver Broncos 34-17; but the following week the Ravens ran all over the New York Giants and beat them 33-14. On the last week of the season, they regressed a little, losing to the Cincinnati Bengals 23-17.
Lewis returned to the Ravens just in the time for the start of the playoffs, and that was really the turning point for their recent success. The offense (and especially Flacco) have flourished this postseason, and Lewis has led the defense in some huge stops. Flacco has yet to throw an interception in the playoffs and has thrown for 853 yards and eight touchdowns; the most in both respective categories.
The motivation of getting Lewis one last ring has really seemed to propel this team forward, and they’re now one win away from accomplishing their goal. We’re in for a real treat tonight in Super Bowl XLVII, and we just may see Lewis do his ridiculous dance one last time.