It took a period of futility on offense before the Baltimore Ravens went on a Super Bowl run five years ago.
The Ravens, again struggling on offense, hope their schedule will provide an opportunity for a similar turnaround as they visit the Detroit Lions.
After scoring 17 points en route to losing its first two games, Baltimore finally earned its first win Sunday, 13-3 over the New York Jets.
The Ravens upcoming schedule could lead to the kind of roll they got on in 2000, when—after not scoring a touchdown for five straight weeks—they won 11 straight games to claim a Super Bowl championship. Baltimore, which began the season with title aspirations, follows this contest with matchups against the 1-2 Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears.
“That’s our plan,” Ravens linebacker Adalius Thomas said. “We want to get on a roll, but it goes back to the same thing, just worrying about Detroit. You really have to take it one game at a time.”
Baltimore featured a physical running game last week that kept the ball for over 38 minutes and a stout defense making timely plays, including a goal-line stand that yielded just three points after Jets linebacker Victor Hobson ran Jamal Lewis’ fumble back 43 yards to the Ravens’ 1.
The Ravens didn’t generate much offense, but were at least able to unleash Lewis, who ran for a season-high 81 yards on 29 carries and scored his first touchdown of the season.
If Baltimore can raise its level of play any further after a dismal start, it could have a chance to run the table against the Lions, Browns and Bears, and stand at 4-2 going into a critical Monday night contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Halloween.
The Ravens, though, know they must maintain their focus.
“You can’t afford to overlook anyone, especially playing on the road,” Thomas said.
The Lions will be without receiver Charles Rogers, who was suspended Wednesday for four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Rogers lost his first two NFL seasons to broken collarbones, and his third year seems to be slipping away. In three games, he has caught only five passes for 77 yards.
“I will make no excuses for what I did, and I accept full responsibility for my actions,” Rogers said in a statement released by the Lions. “I let down a lot of people, mainly myself.”
In last Sunday’s 17-13 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Rogers had one reception for 15 yards and dropped another key pass.
Rogers certainly isn’t the only issue with the Lions’ offense. Quarterback Joey Harrington struggled badly until the final desperate drive and the team rushed for under 100 yards.
“I don’t know what is happening,” Harrington said. “I’m just as frustrated as everyone else. But the way I look at it, we have two options. We can tank everything and start bickering, or we can keep working. It has been slower than we want, but we have to keep going.”
“I was ready to go back in,” he said. “I told them, but they wanted to go with Toose. I don’t know why.”
Jones knows things won’t get any easier against Ray Lewis and the Ravens’ defense.
“We got a taste of him in the preseason last year,” he said. “It’s going to be a great matchup.”