At last, no more state-of-mind questions

December 08, 2012|Kevin Cowherd

Funny how things work in the NFL.

Even though they're 9-3 going into Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins, the Ravens spent much of the week fielding questions about their state of mind.

It got so bad, you half expected to see Dr. Phil working the locker room or Joe Flacco huddling with Jack Canfield, the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" life-improvement guru.

It seemed as if everyone with a microphone or notepad wanted to know how the Ravens were dealing with that ugly 23-20 home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"Obviously, it's not quite as pleasant," Ray Rice said of the mood at the Castle. "But it's all part of it. You have to come in and see what you can correct and move on as quickly as you can."

John Harbaugh, the buttoned-down Ravens coach, went even further, insisting it was "business as usual" for his football team.

But when Flacco heard that, he broke into a smile.

"That's probably a little bit of a lie," the Ravens quarterback said. "There's always a little bit of extra urgency after a loss, for whatever reason. I don't know if it's a bad thing or a good thing. But we are [calm]. We're always calm, cool, collected and confident around here."

Calm, cool, collected and confident — Flacco sounded like a deodorant commercial.

But it's clear the Ravens won't be dealing with any lingering self-esteem issues when they climb into their buses this morning for the short ride down Interstate 95 to FedEx Field.

It's also clear they won't be stressing too much about the prospect of facing a Redskins team that has won three games in a row and features the sublime Robert Griffin III at quarterback.

See, that's another thing the Ravens had their fill of all week: the nonstop barrage of RGIII hype.

As the questions about the rookie phenom flew at them, it was as if none of the other Redskins existed and RGIII was going to win this game for Washington all by himself, a one-man superhero who would make enough big plays to doom the Ravens.

Oh, when asked about him, the Ravens were polite enough.

Invariably, they lapsed into standard NFL player-speak about how much talent the guy has, how much they respect his game, how he plays wise beyond his years and blah, blah, blah.

You'd bring up the kid's stats — third in the NFL with a passer rating of 104.4, 714rushing yards, a record for NFL rookie quarterbacks — and the Ravens would nod and say something like: "Yes, he's really something."

You'd bring up this nifty roll the kid is on — nine touchdowns in his past three games, just one interception — and the Ravens would say: "I'm a big fan." Ray Rice said just that.

But as the week went on, there was a certain look in the Ravens' eyes, a certain set of their jaw, that said this: "One more RGIII question and I'm throwing you through that locker."

So we stopped asking. At least I did.

I get that look enough when I'm at home.

In any event, the Ravens know they're in for a tough game today, in front of a crowd that's been energized by this three-game win streak and the fact the Redskins finally have a shot at the playoffs for the first time in five years — although it feels like much longer.

But the Ravens don't go into this game lacking confidence, either.

For one thing, this is a team that has done well bouncing back from losses in the recent past. Since Harbaugh took over in 2008, the Ravens are 18-4 in games that immediately follow a loss. That's not too shabby. And they're riding a 15-winning streak in those games, too.

They don't go into this game lacking motivation, either.

All week long, when they weren't hearing about RGIII, they were hearing about the loss to the Steelers and how a 38-year-old third-string quarterback named Charlie Batch made them look silly.

When Rice said the Ravens are "an even more [ticked] off 9-3" right now, I believed him. And I think a large part of that has to do with all the abuse they took about Batch beating them.

Comparing Batch to RGIII is like comparing a Dodge Dart to a Lamborghini. But the Ravens know if they can find a way to stop the Redskins' sensational quarterback today, there's a good chance they win this game.

And then all the questions about their state of mind go away — at least for another week.

Listen to Kevin Cowherd at 7:20 a.m. Tuesdays on 105.7 The Fan's

"The Norris and Davis Show."

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