The doomsdayersand talk-show critics will have a field day with this one. The offense failedto find the end zone. Joe Flacco didn't look much like an elite quarterback.The defense gave up a ton of yards again.Yada, yada, yada.To the Ravens,only one fact is important after their 9-6 slog over the Kansas City Chiefs onSunday."It's awin," quarterback Joe Flacco said. Added coach JohnHarbaugh: "We did what we needed to do to win the game. In the NationalFootball League that's really what's important."So whether thefinal score was 30-27 or 9-6, the Ravens will take the three-point win on theroad and go home without apology. "You'regonna have games like this from time to time, and you gotta be happy withgetting a win," Flacco said. "It's a big difference between being 4-1and 3-2."And the bottomline is after five games, the Ravens are 4-1 and atop the AFC North. Theycouldn't have asked for much more than that. The Ravens havebeen in these kinds of games before, grueling, ugly road games where nothingseems to be in sync offensively. They lost such a game last year at Tennessee. And at Jacksonville. And at Seattle. Of course, this time there was one major difference."This wasone of those games that we didn't win last year that we won this year," Harbaugh said. "To methat's an important thing."Yes, the Ravenshave work to do. They have to find the end zone after going 0-for-3 in the redzone against the Chiefs. They have to rediscover their run defense, though theyseemed to do that in the second half. They need to cut down on their ownturnovers and penalties. But none of thoseshortcomings loom quite as large when the standings say 4-1, first place. "Anybody on each side of the ball willtell you, I'll take a W before anything," linebacker Ray Lewis said,"and for us to go home right now 4-1, that's huge."
Their record and performance over the last month may not show it, but the Baltimore Ravens are just one game out of the No. 6 playoff spot in the AFC.
The Kansas City Chiefs (9-1), Los Angeles Chargers (7-2), Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2), New England Patriots (7-3), Houston Texans (6-3), Cincinnati Bengals (5-4), Tennessee Titans (5-4) and the Miami Dolphins (5-5) all rank above the Ravens. But a win Sunday against the Bengals would push the Ravens to the No. 6 spot as they own the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Titans.
Beside remaining in playoff contention, a win Sunday is crucial considering head coach John Harbaugh's job is in question with his team sitting at 4-5, quarterback Joe Flacco is reportedly dealing with a hip injury and the possibility of rookie Lamar Jackson getting his first NFL start.
After getting blown out 51-14 by the Saints, the Bengals fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday. Cincinnati's defense ranks last in the league in passing yards allowed (313.3) and total yards allowed (454.6). A rested Ravens team will have to take advantage of the first team in the Super Bowl era to surrender 500 yards in three straight games as they are among five teams within one game of the final wildcard spot.
Getting shutout by the Bengals this season would give Andy Dalton and co. a two-game lead over the Ravens as well as possessing the tiebreaker.
According to the New York Times' NFL Playoff Simulator, the Ravens have a 27% chance of making the playoffs heading into Week 11 with their remaining strength of schedule ranking at No. 27.
After hosting the Bengals on Sunday, the Ravens host the Oakland Raiders (1-7), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) and Cleveland Browns (3-6), but have tough road games against the Atlanta Falcons (4-5), Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) and Los Angeles Chargers (7-2).
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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III is the team's nominee for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.
Presented annually by USAA and the NFL, the award honors a league member who demonstrates an exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community.
The Robert Griffin III Foundation supports Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), that helps aid those grieving the death of a loved one who served in the military; Luke's Wings, which united wounded warriors, veterans and heroes with their loved ones; and the Bob Woodruff Foundation, that helps ensure injured veterans and their families are thriving when they return home.
Griffin III was born in Okinawa, Japan where his parents were stationed as U.S. Army sergeants. The quarterback spent time living in Fort Carson, Colorado, Seoul, Korea and Fort Hood, Texas as a military kid. His family then settled in Cooperas Cove, Texas, an hour drive from Baylor University where Griffin III attended college.
Finalist for the award will be announced in January. The recipient will be recognized at the NFL Honors award show Saturday, Feb. 2, on the eve of Super Bowl LIII.
RGIII's head coach, John Harbaugh, received the honor in 2013.
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