A 21-game win streak in the NFL regular season is legendary. A 21-game win streak in the preseason is equal parts meaningless and extraordinary.
On the one hand, preseason games don't matter. Preseason success doesn't necessarily carry over to the regular season. If you need proof of that, ask the 2008 Detroit Lions, who went a perfect 4-0 in the preseason and then proceeded to go 0-16 when the real games began.
But then you consider how much turnover an NFL roster experiences from year to year, and how many second-, third- and even fourth-string players see significant time in those games. To win 21-straight preseason games — like the Baltimore Ravens — is an incredible feat, even if it means little in the grand scheme of things.
Don't tell that to Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley, though. Huntley, who threw a touchdown pass in Thursday's preseason win over the Tennessee Titans, believes the team's preseason win streak does have an impact on players and the organization.
Following Thursday's game, Huntley said the streak "means a lot to the culture" of the team, per ESPN.
"It means a lot to the culture, just to show that we're a winning team," Huntley said. "And we don't care what kind of game it is, the Ravens are going to fight to get a win."
Do NFL preseason wins actually matter?
It's tough to completely discount Huntley's assessment. Sure, preseason wins might seem meaningless to those of us watching the game, but they probably mean something to those in the clubhouse. Guys are fighting for their roster spots and are going all out, so to call a preseason game pointless is pretty harsh, and borderline insulting, to the effort those on the roster bubble put in.
While those players are already giving their all, it probably helps that the game has extra meaning for the Ravens. None of the players on the field want to be responsible for the team's streak coming to an end. Maybe that pushes some players to keep their intensity high when fatigue starts to set in.
As Huntley stated, preseason wins set a tone for the Ravens. Players fighting for roster spots or players who signed with the team in the offseason gain immediate insight for how the team operates. The Ravens take every game seriously, even those that don't count in the actual standings. That probably makes an impact on some players, especially those who played for less successful franchises at some point in their careers.