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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens are the NFL’s greatest-ever preseason dynasty. It’s an accomplishment, seven years within the making, that’s equal parts curious, remarkable and irrelevant.
The Ravens will seek their sixth straight undefeated preseason (not counting 2020, when the NFL played no exhibition games due to the pandemic) Saturday night after they face the Washington Commanders at M&T Bank Stadium. They’ve won 22 straight preseason games, a league record that tops the 19 consecutive preseason victories by the Vince Lombardi-coached Green Bay Packers between 1959 and ’62.
All of which suggests what, exactly? Perhaps nothing in any respect, on condition that the outcomes of those exhibitions are utterly meaningless. However the Ravens, who last lost a preseason game in 2015, take some measure of pride within the streak and what it signifies about their organization.
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“It’s considered one of those things where you already know there are so much more necessary things that you just want,” veteran defensive end Calais Campbell said Thursday on the team’s training facility. “But I feel it’s a testament of the best way people prepare, the training camp process [and] the form of guys we usher in here which are attempting to fight to make the team.”
There’s something to be taken, the Ravens consider, in the hassle and performance levels of even those players who won’t see the sector much in the course of the regular season — or won’t even be on the roster by then.
“There’s a certain quality of men that respect the method and go hard,” Campbell said. “And I feel that shows within the preseason games. You’ve got your third- and fourth-teamers on the market balling, playing good football and executing at a high level. I feel that’s a testament to coaches and a testament to the front office for bringing the precise form of guys in.”
The Ravens have a preseason record of 42-12 during John Harbaugh’s head coaching tenure. That hasn’t come because he’s put his front-line players at undue risk to attempt to win preseason games. Harbaugh announced Thursday that quarterback Lamar Jackson won’t play against the Commanders. Backup Tyler Huntley presumably will make the beginning.
Harbaugh said he’ll make determinations about other starters on a case-by-case basis.
“There are some starters that need the work,” Harbaugh said. “Some starters don’t. Probably most starters don’t. And a few of those guys are going to play, too. We’re just managing a few of those guys. … It’s not one size suits all.”
The Ravens’ summer exploits could be easily dismissed. There are not any trophies handed out for August NFL triumphs, in any case. There may be an argument to be made, especially with a 17-game regular season, that probably the most sensible approach to the preseason is to maintain all key players idle, avoid season-wrecking injuries and treat the primary couple games of the regular season because the new-age preseason.
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But perhaps that is simply too dismissive. Perhaps there’s something to be said for being intent upon winning each time the rating is kept. Lombardi’s Packers won NFL championships, within the pre-Super Bowl days, in the ultimate two seasons of their preseason winning streak. The Ravens, although they’re coming off an 8-9 season, have been among the many league’s most consistent winners; they’ve two Super Bowl titles this century while rating fifth amongst all NFL teams in total victories within the 2000s.
So though Saturday’s end result won’t mean much when the Ravens open the season against the Latest York Jets on Sept. 11 at MetLife Stadium, with Jackson within the lineup as a substitute of standing by Harbaugh on the sideline, perhaps it is going to be reflective of an approach that does matter no less than a bit.
“I feel that’s something you may hang your hat on and say, ‘Okay, we prepare a certain form of way that enables guys to achieve success,’” Campbell said. “It’s something to be happy with. But obviously there’s far more things which are greater that we wish. We’d like a streak of that.”