Playing on road during playoffs not a problem for Ravens
Jan. 05, 2015
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The roar that filled the stadium in the first quarter had long since disappeared, and so had the majority of Pittsburgh Steelers fans.
As the Baltimore Ravens walked off Heinz Field following their 30-17 victory Saturday night, a few hundred purple-clad folks lined up near the visitors' tunnel.
Smiling broadly, Ravens coach John Harbaugh slapped high-fives with those who made the trip from Baltimore.
It is a ritual that has become quite commonplace over the past seven years.
No team over the past 40 years has traveled better in the postseason than the Ravens, whose 10 road wins are the most by any team since the 1970 merger.
No. 10 came at the expense of the hated Steelers, making Baltimore the only team to win on the road last weekend.
That provided the Ravens (11-6) with the opportunity to pin another defeat on the Patriots (12-4) in New England on Saturday.
"It's a business trip, certainly," Harbaugh said Monday. "The bottom line is, it's going to be emotional. There's a lot at stake. They're the No. 1 seed and we're the No. 6 seed. We understand what that means. That's all there. But in the end, it's a game."
The Ravens have reached the postseason in six of Harbaugh's seven years as their head coach. They are 7-4 on the road over that span, leaving Harbaugh tied with Tom Coughlin and Tom Landry for the most road wins since the merger.
Harbaugh says the team goes through the same routine, at home or away, and insists there's no big secret to his success.
In his view, quite simply, the better team won.
"I really don't have an explanation for that other than the fact that we played well," Harbaugh said. "You've got to play well on the road, obviously, to have a chance to win."
That's what happened in Pittsburgh. The Ravens forced three turnovers, had five sacks and punted only twice in yet another win on the road.
"It's great after you do it, but it doesn't mean much for the next game," Harbaugh said.
The Patriots are 15-4 at home during the postseason. Half of those defeats have come against the Ravens, whose previous visit to New England served as a precursor to a trip to the Super Bowl.
Baltimore eliminated the Patriots in 2010, lost by a field goal in the 2012 AFC title game and rolled to a 28-13 victory in 2013.
And now, two of the AFC elite will meet again.
"They're tough. They're physically and mentally tough," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of the Ravens. "They can play in tough situations and they're talented. They keep coming at you."
Even on the road, as the Steelers learned on Saturday night.
"It was very special and meaningful," Harbaugh said. "To be in the locker room, and then the plane ride home with the fellas, you never forget that stuff. That's really why we do what we do ... for moments like that."
Asked where that victory ranked on his list of favorites, Harbaugh replied, "It's the best one because it's the last one. The next one will be even better."
Notes: Harbaugh said left tackle Eugene Monroe (ankle) and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (foot) should return to practice this week after missing the Pittsburgh game. ... Baltimore's 10-5 road record is tied with Carolina for best percentage (.667) since the merger.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL