Im sure after watching the Kansas City Chiefs stumble, bumble and fumble the game away Sunday afternoon, gift-wrapping the Ravens a 9-6 win that some of you will say they didnt deserve, no one will want to hear about how tough it is in the NFL to win football games on the road. But its not a cliché. Its a proven, cold, hard fact backed up by decades of data and thousands of quiet, late-night plane rides. Heck, as successful as the Ravens have been under John Harbaugh, they are still just 18-16 on the road, not counting the playoffs, since he got the job in 2008. Thats why, just like that turquoise turtleneck your aunt once knitted for your birthday, you cant really refuse a road win when you get one, though that doesnt mean you have to feel good about getting it or brag about it to your friends the following day. The Ravens were admittedly flat on offense in the first half of Sundays game at Arrowhead Stadium, and they looked flat in the second half, too, even if they didnt fess up to it. Quarterback Joe Flacco completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes, his receivers had a few drops, his offensive line allowed him to get sacked four times, and the Ravens only had three third-down conversions. I already wrote at length about the struggles of the defense, so I don't need to elaborate too much there (though I will once again point out they gave up 214 yards on the ground). The special teams unit had a big blunder, too, with rookie Deonte Thompson fumbling during a kickoff return at the start of the second half. But unlike the Chiefs, they avoided back-breaking mistakes like Matt Cassels fumble at the goal line, like Dwayne Bowe letting a Cassel pass clank off his shoulder pads and into the arms of cornerback Cary Williams, and like Dexter McClusters obvious penalty that negated a late Chiefs touchdown. That was the difference in the Ravens winning a game that will give their coaches plenty to harp on this week. After the game, the Ravens pointed out they lost this kind of game a few times a season ago, alluding to sluggish road performances in Jacksonville, Seattle and San Diego. Im not ready to conclude that this is a team of destiny because the ball bounced their way Sunday, but you could argue those letdowns last season led to the Ravens falling short of the Super Bowl, as they were the difference between them and the New England Patriots getting home-field advantage for the AFC championship game. Thats probably why Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb said, It's an ugly win, but it's beautiful, to the sideline reporter from Comcast as he walked off the field at Arrowhead Stadium. Thats the only way you can look it now. Youre not going to refuse any road win, so all you can do is smile and accept it.
Christopher T. Assaf, Baltimore Sun
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