Jamison Hensley's Ravens beat: Ravens struggle playing in domes

November 10, 2010|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

When the Ravens play at the Georgia Dome on Thursday, it will mark the team's second game in an enclosed stadium over the past four seasons.

To get ready for the unfamiliar surroundings, the Ravens practiced all week in their indoor field house. They blasted the simulated crowd noise out of the speakers surrounding the field.

"The crowd is going to be very fired up," coach John Harbaugh said, "so it's just the type of environment that we like."

It's just not the type of environment that the Ravens have found much success in over the years. The Ravens are 2-9 when playing indoors in the regular season, losing at Houston's Astrodome, St. Louis' Edward Jones Dome (twice), Atlanta's Georgia Dome, Indianapolis' RCA Dome (three times), Detroit's Ford Field and Minnesota's Metrodome.

The biggest challenge in a dome is handling the crowd noise on offense. Some teams resort to silent counts and others tell their players to look at the ball getting snapped. That second of hesitation allows pass rushers to get a jump on offensive linemen and causes wide receivers to get off the line slower.

But the more troublesome area for the Ravens in domes in recent years has been on defense. The Ravens have allowed over 30 points in three of their past five games in a dome. That's an astounding number considering the Ravens have given up over 30 points eight times in a seven-year span.

Perhaps the main reason why the Ravens have struggled in domes isn't the structure itself. It's the teams that are playing there. Of the Ravens' nine losses in indoor stadiums, seven have come against playoff teams that season. That includes three division winners in addition to one Super Bowl champion (1999 St. Louis Rams).

Some might want to put an asterisk next to the Ravens' indoor record. The Ravens have won twice at Houston's Reliant Stadium and closed out Dallas' Texas Stadium with a win. But those games are considered outdoors because of the open roofs.

But there's no questioning Thursday's challenge for the Ravens. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is 17-1 at the Georgia Dome, the best home record for any quarterback since 2008.

"That's been an advantage for us," Ryan said. "I think our record the past three years has proven that. I think our fans have done a great job this year, especially when we're on defense. The dome has been loud. It's been a great environment, and hopefully we can keep that going."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jamisonhensley YearOpponentStadiumResult1996HoustonAstrodomeL, 29-131996IndianapolisRCA DomeL, 26-211999St. LouisEdward Jones DomeL, 27-101999AtlantaGeorgia DomeW, 19-132002IndianapolisRCA DomeL , 22-202002AtlantaGeorgia DomeL , 20-172003St. LouisEdward Jones DomeL, 33-222004IndianapolisRCA DomeL, 20-102005DetroitFord FieldL, 35-172006New OrleansSuperdomeW, 35-222009MinnesotaMetrodomeL, 33-31DOME DIFFICULTIES

The Ravens are 2-9 in team history when playing indoors:

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