Another rough finish, another tough pill to swallow.
I know it. So does every other Ravens fan. To lose against the much-hated Colts and Mr. Perfect Peyton Manning is tough to take, and with good reason. In fact, Baltimore hasn’t won against Indianapolis since 2001. That’s eight straight losses. Ouch.
Fans should have reason to keep their heads held high, of course. The defense was, once again, stifling all year, and given a few more close-score wins earlier in the year, the confidence factor and playoff seeding might’ve given us a different outlook.
In general, a plaguing offense with inconsistent quarterback play and dropped passes year-round were the top reasons granting the rough season. Give a nod to Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, however, who both light up a struggling offense like I haven’t seen in the NFL in a long while.
Let’s forget about John Harbaugh, the guy’s amazing. True, in late-game situations, the head coach needs to have a better coaching head on his shoulders when it comes to clock situations, but it’s hard not to love the guy regardless. I say Baltimore keeps him at the top and brings in Brian Billick again just to run the offense.
But let’s move to more pressing issues at hand. Ray Lewis has a contract for two more years at linebacker, and safety Ed Reed and a couple other big-name defensive standouts will be on hand for the next couple seasons. In truth, Baltimore will not be losing anybody for 2010 that isn’t necessary for success.
Though both Lewis and Reed are approaching their mid-30’s, it’s quite apparent the fire and passion they have for the game still exists.
In a way, I saw 2009 as the college-equivalent of a rebuilding year, with second-year starters at the two top offensive positions fighting for a second consecutive playoff appearance. And they succeeded. The offense never quite had the burst it needed to carry deep through the playoffs, but that will come with more experience with veteran wide-outs as well as comfort in the pocket for Joe Flacco.
Keep your heads up, Ravens fans. As long as we have our noted defensive powerhouse lineup, we’ll always be competitive. Add a couple more veterans on offense and give the young talent some more experience, and you may expect a second Super Bowl appearance in the very near future.