Ravens Can’t Focus On Home Playoff Game

Falling from 1st to 5th in the AFC, the Ravens are in their ‘vacation home in hell.’

Posted by Garrett Downing on Monday, December 19th, 2011 at 2:03 am | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, Garrett Downing, Week 15 vs Chargers

The Baltimore Ravens no longer control their own destiny to a home playoff game.

Sunday’s 34-14 loss to San Diego drops the Ravens behind the Pittsburgh Steelers in the conference and the division standings, and puts them in a position where they need help to get back in contention for home-field advantage in the postseason.

If Pittsburgh wins out, then the Steelers will be the top seed in the AFC and get awarded the first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

But right now the Ravens say they don’t have time to worry about all of that.

“That is not a factor in the way we think at all,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said after the game. “We don’t have the energy, nor the time, nor the inclination to give that one seconds worth of thought. All of our energy, all of our time, all of our effort has to go toward playing the Cleveland Browns.”

The Ravens had a grasp on first place in the AFC, but now fall to fifth place after the loss. If Pittsburgh loses to San Francisco on Monday Night Football, then the Ravens would reclaim first place in the AFC North and second in the conference.

More importantly, for the Ravens to stay in the hunt for a home playoff game, they know that they will have to win their final two regular- season games against Cleveland and Cincinnati.

“We fell from first to fifth, but we still can have everything that we want to happen to us,” outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “We can either tuck our tails and see how it plays out, or we can go out and win the damn games.”

And if they have to go on the road, it’s nothing they haven’t done before.

“We’re back in hell, but we have a vacation home in hell,” Suggs said.

Despite Sunday’s loss, the Ravens clinched a playoff spot before the Chargers game with losses by the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans. It will be the fourth-straight postseason appearance by the Ravens under Harbaugh, but none of those games has come at M&T Bank Stadium.

Whether the Ravens end up getting a home playoff game, they emphasized that their goal remains unchanged.

“The thought process and the journey is still the same. Getting in the playoffs is still the number one agenda,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “Bottom line is, when you get into the playoffs, everybody’s records go back to 0-0.”

While the Ravens would love to bring a playoff game to Baltimore, where they are undefeated this year, they first have to take care of business in the rest of the regular season. They also recognize recent history that shows teams have found postseason success without playing any playoff games at home.

Green Bay made the playoffs as the sixth seed last year after losing to the Patriots in Week 15. They went on to win their final six games, including four on the road in the playoffs, before winning the Super Bowl.

“The Green Bay Packers lost their last game a year ago tomorrow,” Suggs said. “So we can go on an amazing run or we can see how it plays out and hope it ends in our favor.”

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