The Baltimore Ravens' impressive, odd and somewhat meaningless preseason win streak has entered historic territory.
With a 20-3 win over the Carolina Panthers on Saturday, the Ravens tied the Vince Lombardi-era Green Bay Packers' NFL record with 19 straight preseason victories. It's also the longest streak in the entirety of the Super Bowl era.
Lombardi's Packers set the original mark from 1959 to 1962 per ESPN's Jamison Hensley, though that was a vastly different environment from today.
The last time the Ravens lost a preseason game was Sept. 3, 2015 against the Atlanta Falcons. The streak began one year later against the Panthers and has continued across five NFL seasons (last year did not have a preseason).
Coach Harbaugh discusses the significance of winning 19-straight preseason games and tying a streak from the Lombardi-Era Packers. pic.twitter.com/UjWPy2Vvqv
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 22, 2021
John Harbaugh's thoughts on the streak after the game:
"There's going to be people who say this doesn't mean anything. There's going to be people who look at it and say 'Wow, that's something.' I think everything is something. I'm of the belief that everything has meaning in life. I guess you can take two things, nothing has meaning and everything has meaning. So if we're doing it, and it's worth doing and it matters, then it's worth doing well."
Some wins have been by only one point, others have been blowouts against overmatched backups. Saturday's win was more the latter. After an evenly matched first half that ended 3-3, Baltimore held Carolina to only 18 yards in the second half, with P.J. Walker going only 1-of-8 for eight yards.
Meanwhile, Ravens backup quarterback Tyler Huntley finished 24-of-34 for 187 yards and an interception. With the Ravens not interested in risking Lamar Jackson and other backup Trace McSorley out for the rest of preseason with a back injury, the team needed Huntley the whole game. He benefited from a rushing game that peaked with the monster Ty'Son Williams touchdown run seen above.
How did the Ravens win 19 straight preseason games?
It doesn't matter what your thoughts on preseason are, any day you tie a Vince Lombardi record is a good day.
As for the actual functionality of a preseason win streak, that's pretty mercurial. Much of 19 straight wins could be chalked up to luck and competing in games where other teams have completely checked out, as coaches like Sean McVay are notorious for never playing their stars in preseason games. The Ravens will still let their top players see some preseason action, though only one or two full-strength sequences are not how you go undefeated for six years.
The Ravens have long been one of the most respected organizations in football, and what they do well seems like the kind of stuff that augurs preseason success.
John Harbaugh is known for his meticulous coaching style. The team has often had strong options at quarterback behind Jackson and Joe Flacco, like Huntley and Robert Griffin III. The team's depth creates motivation for players on the roster bubble. The front office drafts well and, more importantly in preseason, does well in the undrafted free agent market by picking up players like safety Ar'Darius Washington.
This was a really impressive play by Ar’Darius Washington to get the Ravens the ball back deep in their own territory
He’s a playmaker, as he seems to be constantly around the ball pic.twitter.com/3GeGhJDPCD
— Kevin Oestreicher (@koestreicher34) August 19, 2021
The Ravens obtain little beyond pride for winning so much in preseason, but it's not like that effort has harmed the team much in the actual season. And at the end of the day, all of the players on the field actually do want to win.
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