I know I ripped off the tagline for the article, but one of those words means a lot to the Baltimore Ravens.
The key to the Ravens is not what you would expect. It is not anything related to the game of football at all.
It is not defense, it is not Joe Flacco, it is not a strong running game. It is a word, and it is in the title.
It's the word "we." And the word "we" turns into "team." Look back at some of the press conferences after games, even losses.
Now try to count how many times John Harbaugh says "we" or "football team." Don't waste your time, because you're going to lose count.
The point is, that is the key. Everything is a team effort, a team win, or a team loss. There are no individuals on the Ravens, just one team. No one casts blame, no one points fingers. If they lose, it is the team's fault, not anyone in particular.
Now listen to Ray Lewis' statement following the win over the 27-9 Miami Dolphins in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. I know you won't bother, so I'll quote him.
"Every man looks to each other as a man, and asks themselves a simple question. Are you fighting for yourself, or are you fighting for the man beside you. And that's the beauty of our team...we fight together."
That is a true leader right there, something that isn't common in this league anymore. You see teams today like the Steelers, Saints, Philly, and New York Giants are all successful teams. Why? Because they have a leader to rally around.
Take Terrell Owens. He is arguably the best receiver in the league, but he has the attitude to match his skill. Last year in December, the Dallas Cowboys had a collapse that centered around Owens being upset about the number of passes thrown to TE Jason Whitten and not him, as well as Tony Romo's performance.
That "me me me" attitude set up the Cowboys for failure. The Ravens have abandoned that attitude, and it shows in their performance.
Joe Flacco wasn't the first rookie QB to win two playoff games by himself. He had a strong team, who had his back no matter how poorly he played.
Likewise, the Ravens wouldn't have won Super Bowl 35 on individual performances, but by a great team performance. The Arizona Cardinals didn't make it to the Super Bowl because of Larry Fitzgerald, but because he had help from his team.
Teams with the strongest leaders, strongest bond, and strongest camaraderie will always come up on top. That's what currently rebuilding teams need.