There's an old saying around football circles, and it's one that John Harbaugh repeated to reporters on Friday as his team was preparing to head out west to take on the Seahawks:
To win on the road, be sure to pack your running game, your defense and your special teams.
I think those three things might have gotten left on the tarmac at San Francisco Airport early in the weekend.
The Ravens didn't play a sound football game in any aspect yesterday.
They were completely unbalanced offensively and struggled to put up points against a middle-of-the-road defense. They allowed 327 total yards to the NFL's fourth-worst offense and couldn't get off the field late in the game when they needed a big stop. They had two special teams turnovers, missed two field goals and had a shanked punt which resulted in three Seahawks points.
The coaches didn't coach well. The players didn't play well. (Yes, blame does fall on them, too.) And it's starting to get very concerning.
It's concerning because at this point, more than halfway through the season, we have absolutely no idea what type of team this is or what type of performance the Ravens will deliver on any given day.
They can make the Steelers look like a D-III college team (see: Week 1) and roll over a Texans team that's now atop the AFC (see: Week 6), and then can make some of the worst squads in the NFL look like legitimate Super Bowl contenders (see: Weeks 7, 8 and 10).
They can move 92 yards for a game-winning score against one of the league's best defenses and then manage just seven points in the first 44 minutes of their very next game. They can jump out on top of the Jets 27-7 and then fall behind the Cardinals 24-3 and the Seahawks 22-7.
They can force seven turnovers, record five sacks and wreak havoc, then have a minus-3 turnover ratio and present a nearly nonexistent pass rush.
The ups and downs are so dramatic from week to week that spouses and coworkers of Ravens fans might be starting to think everyone around them is bipolar.
The frustrating part is that the potential is there. This isn't just an average football team that will hover around .500 and settle for a few nice wins here and there. (At least we don't think it is.) This team has the ability to make a run at a Lombardi Trophy.
But they sure as heck won't get to the big stage if they don't find some kind of consistency.
You need at least three wins in the playoffs to hold that trophy. The Ravens better believe that they won't lay a finger on it with one win and then a stinker of a performance the next week out.