PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
How long will the Ravens’ AFC championship loss to New England sting?
“I think probably forever,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said on Tuesday. “It will be there forever.”
The Ravens are gearing up for another run at next year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans. But it’s clear at the NFL owners meetings that pain from the loss more than two months ago is still lingering.
Owner Steve Bisciotti said that he had a debate with his guest, Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., after the AFC championship about the most devastating way to lose a game.
“Would you rather lose in Game 7 of the World Series on a walk-off home run, or would you rather get blown out 10-1?” Bisciotti asked Ripken.
Bisciotti would rather lose on the walk-off, which is essentially what happened when wide receiver Lee Evans dropped the likely game-winning pass and kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal that would have forced overtime.
“I don’t want people thinking we didn’t deserve to be there,” Bisciotti said. “I want people thinking we were as good a team as anybody in the NFL and I think we proved it that day.
“It burns you more because we were that close. Would it have burned you less because we got blown out? No, but you would have more serious doubts about the decision making of our organization.”
After the Ravens’ previous three playoff exits in three years, the question was, “How do the Ravens get over the hump?”
This offseason, it’s different. All they needed was one more caught pass. How do you fix that?
Asked what the team needs to do to reach the big game, Bisciotti paused for a few seconds to think.
“Pray,” he said.
“We didn’t have a glaring weakness last year. We should have been in the Super Bowl. We believe we would have beaten the Giants, of course. Had those things gone our way, you would still be posing that question and I would still be at a loss for an answer because it evolves.”
There will be a new team, with new young faces stepping in for lost veterans such as outside linebacker Jarret Johnson, defensive end Cory Redding and guard Ben Grubbs.
But that happened the year prior as well. New, young players stepped in for released veterans such as wide receiver Derrick Mason, tight end Todd Heap and defensive tackle Kelly Gregg.
“What we need to be better is we need to continue doing what we’re doing, continue to give young guys the opportunity to fill in when we lose these veterans,” Bisciotti said. “And they need to step up.”