Now that the O’s are done for 2012, our household is focused full-time on the Ravens again. Mike and I almost never miss a game, whether in person from our season seats in Sec. 524 at M&T Bank Stadium or screaming at them on TV. Like most folks around Baltimore, we own an inordinate amount of purple clothing — the better to celebrate Purple Fridays throughout the NFL season.
Since coach John Harbaugh, QB Joe Flacco and RB Ray Rice arrived five seasons ago, the Ravens have made the playoffs every year. Last year they came within one dropped pass by Lee Evans and one missed FG by Billy Cundiff of beating the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game to head to the Super Bowl. I remember all too well the sick feeling we all got when Cundiff hooked that easy 32-yarder wide left, squandering a chance to send the game into overtime and keep the Ravens’ season alive.
“Ed Reed‘s never going to play in a Super Bowl,” I moaned, with only a little melodrama. Reed, one of the greatest safeties ever to play the game, is a free spirited ball hawk who, on and off the field, is wildly unpredictable and (mostly) entertaining. But he was drafted the year after the Ravens won their one and only Super Bowl, so he’s never gotten a real shot at a Lombardi Trophy. Ed has battled serious neck problems and other injuries the last few years, and every season there’s speculation that he’ll hang up his cleats. All of us who have spent the last decade watching giddily as Reed picked off one QB after another and screaming “REEEEEEEEEED!” at the top of our lungs can’t help but hope that won’t happen until he gets a ring. When Cundiff’s kick sailed wide last January, part of the heartbreak was for us, but a big part of it also was for Ed Reed.
Today the Ravens (5-1 somehow, despite an atypically terrible defensive season) are getting their butts kicked in Houston by the Texans (also 5-1, the only other AFC team with a winning record). The rout isn’t really a surprise; the Ravens are pretty banged up coming into this game, having lost Ray Lewis to what’s probably a season-ending triceps tear, excellent corner Lardarius Webb to a definite season-ending ACL injury, and with a host of other walking wounded. But it’s been even uglier than we expected, with the Texans dominating on both sides of the ball. No matter how prepared you think you are to see your team get beat, it still isn’t any fun.
The Ravens get a bye after today. Here’s hoping Coach Harbaugh and his team spend the time figuring out how to get the D problems fixed, the O in a rhythm and the team back on a winning track. Otherwise, Ravens fans will spend another long off-season wondering whether we’ll ever get back to the Super Bowl and whether Ed Reed will ever get a ring.
[As I was about to hit publish, with the Ravens trailing 36-13 mid fourth-quarter, Ed Reed has gone down on a hard tackle and is very slow to get up, with trainers hovering around him. Not good, not good at all.]