Getting The Bye Is ‘Totally New’

Three ways to get to the championship: impossible, harder and hard. The Ravens chose hard.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Monday, January 2nd, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

There’s a different feeling around the Ravens training complex this morning.

It’s not the hustle and bustle of making a quick turnaround for a massive playoff game in a week. That’s the way it was the past three years.

No, the Ravens can enjoy Sunday’s division-clinching victory in Cincinnati and let their injured bodies heal. This is the beauty of the bye.

And it’s something Baltimore hasn’t experienced since 2006, when they won the AFC North with a 13-3 record and also earned the AFC’s No. 2 seed.

“I got a totally different team,” said linebacker Ray Lewis, who is one of the few players on the team who has felt a playoff bye.

“You’re not dealing with the same dynamic we were a couple years ago. We’ve got a totally different dynamic with a different vision. So, every step is going to be something totally new for us. Our coaches will approach it right and most importantly our players will approach it right.”

The Ravens reached the playoffs the previous three seasons, but each time they had to go on the road in the wild card. They went to Miami in 2008, New England in 2009 and Kansas City in 2010.

Baltimore won all three of those games, but having an automatic “W” is better than having to battle for one. 

“There are three ways to get to that championship,” Head Coach John Harbaugh told his players before Sunday’s game. “’There’s impossible, there’s harder and there’s hard.’ By winning this game, we got hard. That’s better than the other two options.”

The Ravens will have critical time to rest their injured players, including  guard Marshal Yanda (ribs), kicker Billy Cundiff (calf), wide receiver Anquan Boldin (knee), defensive end Cory Redding (ankle), cornerback Jimmy Smith (concussion), and linebackers Jameel McClain (knee), Brendon Ayanbadejo (quad) and Dannell Ellerbe (concussion).

“This bye week is going to be huge,” running back Ray Rice said. “We know what a bye week does. It gets people healthy.”

“It’s valuable, man,” outside linebacker Terrell Suggs added. “I’m looking forward to the rest and sitting at home and watching the first week of playoffs with my babies. You know, that is the biggest thing. To be division North champs, that’s your goal.”

But even though the Ravens will have an easier road to their ultimate goal, they aren’t taking it for granted.

The Ravens are 4-0 after a bye week under Harbaugh. They went undefeated at home this season.

Baltimore will face Pittsburgh, Houston or Denver at M&T Bank Stadium on Jan. 15 at 1 p.m.

“Just because we are at home doesn’t mean that anyone is giving the game to us,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “We need to go out there and play hard. We need to win a couple more games this year.”

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