Picture this: The Ravens hang on to beat the Steelers last night, improve to 9-3 on the season, gain the equivalent of a dominating two-game advantage over Pittsburgh in the battle for the AFC North title (a one game lead plus the head-to-head tiebreaker), and position themselves for a likely first-round bye and at least one home playoff game.
That's what the Ravens would have been looking at if they could have finished off the Steelers late last night.
Instead, here's what they're now looking at: An 8-4 record, putting them a game back of Pittsburgh with four games to go; a likely No. 5 or No. 6 seed, which would make any chances of a home playoff game very remote; and yet another long road journey through the postseason.
It's crazy how three minutes of football can change a team's outlook so dramatically.
Now, let's be clear about one thing - the Ravens still have a shot at the division title.
They're only a game back of Pittsburgh with four games left to play, and if the Ravens are able to run the table and the Steelers falter at some point over the next month, a shot at the AFC North top spot opens up again.
But the schedules aren't working in the Ravens' favor as the regular season winds to a close.
Baltimore has two road games left, against the Texans a week from today and versus a suddenly resurgent Browns team, and two home contests, against the Super Bowl Champion Saints and the Bengals.
The Steelers, on the other hand, have three games at home, where they rarely stumble in crunch time.
The boys from Charm City are two games clear of the pack of four teams behind them in the battle for the sixth playoff spot, so that final AFC seed looks to be secure.
Baring a total breakdown, the Ravens should be making their third straight playoff appearance under John Harbaugh.
But, instead of sitting pretty near the top of the AFC pack with a little bit of a cushion between them and those in their rearview mirror, the Ravens will have to spend the last four weeks of the season scrapping and clawing for playoff position.
They've done it before, and have been fairly successful as a Wild Card team the last two years.
It's clearly not where they would prefer to be, however.
The Ravens should have themselves in the big dance, but yet again, they will likely have to do it the hard way.