Perched behind the lectern after another hard day's work, Ravens running back Ray Rice glanced at the television to his left and saw that the Houston Texans had just scored a touchdown in the final seconds to beat the Cincinnati Bengals. Rice playfully pounded his hand on the rostrum.
He was then told to abstain from looking at the television to his right, which just showed the New England Patriots forcing the Washington Redskins into a game-saving turnover. Rice looked anyway and then replied, "Oh Lord," when he saw the evidence for himself.
The Ravens are getting virtually no help in their bid to secure the first overall seed in the AFC, a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but they are certainly making things look routine on their end. To nobody's surprise, the Ravens had very little trouble Sunday with the winless Indianapolis Colts, coasting to a 24-10 victory in front of an announced 71,187 at M&T Bank Stadium.
From the elusiveness of Rice to the speed of rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith to the tenacity of linebacker Terrell Suggs, the hapless and Peyton Manning-less Colts (0-13) had no answers for the Ravens in a game that was much more lopsided than the scoreboard showed.
"We just have to keep it rolling because as you've all seen through the years, championship teams, they don't settle for what's happening right now," said Suggs, who had three sacks and three forced fumbles, and was described by his coach, John Harbaugh, as a "game-wrecker." "Every week, they try to get better, and they try to continue to go and find ways to get on a roll, like we're doing. We're doing a lot of things good, but we have to correct things and get better at the things that we're not doing so well. We've still got work to do. We're still not satisfied. This team is still hungry."
They have to be because the Ravens, now 10-3 for just the second time in franchise history, have no margin of error with three games remaining. Thanks to victories by the Patriots, Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers this week, there is a four-way tie atop the AFC standings.
The Ravens do have the tiebreaker advantage over the Steelers -- and the Texans, for that matter -- but they know that they'll probably have to win their final three games, starting next Sunday night against the San Diego Chargers, to get what they want. That's why, Rice's playful comments aside, they don't appear to be stressing too much over what everyone else is doing.
"It's out there, so you always see it," said Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who beat the Colts for the first time in four career tries. "It looked like there were a couple of close games, looked like Houston might go down, and they didn't. Looked like New England might go down and they didn't. But I'm not really banking on that anyway. I'm looking at the rest of the season saying we've got to win the rest of our games."
Unlike in Washington and Cincinnati, things were never in doubt here as the Ravens scored on their first three possessions to take a 17-3 halftime lead and then put the game away on Flacco's across-his-body throw to tight end Dennis Pitta for a 7-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.
Rice was the offensive catalyst again, following up his 204-yard rushing performance against the Cleveland Browns by rushing for 103 yards on 26 carries, and scoring on a 6-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He passed the 1,000-yard mark on the ground for the third straight season, tying Jamal Lewis' team record. Rice also caught a team-leading six passes for 46 yards.
"I just think we're playing good team football," Rice said. "For me, it was one of those games where I didn't try to do too much, but just stayed the course. We were cooking on all cylinders. We passed when we needed to pass it and ran when we needed to run it."
Flacco was 23-for-31 for 227 yards and two touchdowns, eclipsing the 3,000-yard mark for a team-record third straight season. His lone blemish was an interception in the Colts' end zone early in the fourth quarter.
Wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Smith each had five catches with Smith hauling in an 8-yard touchdown pass from Flacco on the Ravens' first drive. His sixth touchdown tied Lewis' rookie Ravens record for touchdowns in a season.
"Obviously, we're happy with a victory and we're pleased with where we're at as far as 10 wins," Harbaugh said. "We are in December football, and that's what counts. There were a lot of great things out there Â… but I thought our defense was absolutely outstanding. Obviously, until the last drive, we were on the verge of setting a record, so we're disappointed with the last drive. That's something we could've done a better job with some young guys out there."