Sunday in Seattle is another chance for a Ravens let-down

Team can't afford to overlook the 2-6 Seahawks as it did the lowly Jaguars

November 09, 2011|Kevin Cowherd

I don't ask the Ravens about let-downs anymore.

The last time I did was right before the Jacksonville game three weeks ago. The Ravens were coming off an emotional 29-14 win over the Houston Texans, and I made the mistake of asking some of them if there was any chance of a let-down against the lowly Jaguars.

Oh, no, they all said. We're a veteran team. We don't do let-downs. Everybody knows what's at stake here.

They said it so vehemently, too. Remember Jim Mora wigging out in those Coors Light commercials? "Playoffs? You kidding me? PLAYOFFS?"

That's the kind of reaction I got. "Let-down? Are you serious? LET-DOWN?"

Right.

Then they stunk it up in a 12-7 loss to the Jags.

So I wasn't about to bring up the subject Wednesday after that big, emotional win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. No way. I learned my lesson.

Fortunately, Ray Rice brought it up for me. I could have kissed the little fella, too.

"We've been riding an emotional high right now," Rice said. "Coming off these big wins, we've got the tendency of a let-down. It's time for us to be able to put the big games behind us and treat every game like it's a big game.

"Coach Harbaugh put it in perspective: 'Every game from here on out, your season's on the line.' Pittsburgh's over and done with. It's the Seattle Seahawks now."

Right, it's the Seattle Seahawks. Who are 2-6. And that's exactly why Ravens fans are so worried this week.

Will this team come out flat after a big win the way it did against the Jaguars? And the way it did in a 26-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans after that exhilarating 35-7 beat-down of the Steelers in the season-opener?

The Ravens say no. Again.

"I think it's going to be our job to get off to a quick start," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "And we do that by executing and trying to be as efficient as we can."

Flacco's right, of course. A fast start Sunday is absolutely key.

Otherwise, the nightmare scenario goes something like this: the Ravens' offense goes three-and-out its first two or three possessions.

Now the crowd at CenturyLink Field — there's a name that rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it? — starts getting into it.

And pretty soon the Seahawks start feeding off all the noise. They keep shutting down the Ravens offense. Then they hit a couple of big plays when they have the ball.

And all of a sudden, you've got the 2-6 Seahawks foaming at the mouth and flying around the field and thinking: Maybe these Ravens aren't that good. Maybe we can beat these guys.

"It's just executing," coach John Harbaugh said about how the Ravens can start fast Sunday. "It's handling the crowd noise — that'll be very difficult."

Yes, make no mistake about it: it'll be loud at that stadium. Real loud. And right from the get-go, too.

You think Ravens fans get all lathered up over Ray Lewis' crazy pre-game dance? Get a load of what the Seahawks do.

Right before the kickoff, they release this real, live seahawk or osprey or whatever it is. And the seahawk flies around the stadium, swooping and soaring and getting the crowd all worked up.

Then, just when you think it can't get any louder, just when you think your ears are going to bleed and the entire stadium is about to start levitating, it gets even louder.

Because that's when a former Seahawks player or celebrity or local big-shot raises the 12th Man flag. And then the crowd gets whipped up into an even bigger frenzy.

But loud or not, this is a game for the Ravens to prove something to themselves.

It's a game to prove they have the mind-set of a champion, a team that wins consistently, a team that beats you up no matter who you are or what your record is.

Ray Rice is right: treat every game like a big game. That's how teams get to the Super Bowl. Besides, a let-down now would tarnish that great 23-20 win over the Steelers Sunday — and the Ravens know it.

"It would still be a division win, it would still be a conference win," Harbaugh said of the Steelers game. "But we don't want to win one, then give one back. And that's going to be true for the rest of the season. Every game we play is going to be the most important game."

Sunday, right before kickoff, he'll tell his players the same thing.

We'll see if they take it to heart.

(Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "Norris and Davis Show.")

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