“As a single player, as an individual, right now I am embarrassed to come out and perform the way we have,” Reed said. “We’re not the only team that lost today and we still have two more games. But as a player, I am embarrassed for our city.”
A little more than a month later, that embarrassment has turned into a city-wide celebration. The Ravens rebounded from the Broncos’ loss to beat the New York Giants the following week, setting the stage for the postseason run that has the Ravens readying for a matchup with the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on the first Sunday in February at the Superdome in New Orleans.
How did the Ravens turn things around in time? Their postseason run can be traced back to four decisions made over the past six weeks.
●Dec. 10: Ravens fire offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and replace him with quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell.
The timing of Cameron’s dismissal seemed odd. A day earlier, the Ravens endured a 31-28 loss in overtime to the Redskins, but the defeat couldn’t be pinned on the offense. Joe Flacco threw three first-half touchdowns and completed 16 of 21 passes, Ray Rice rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown and the offense put together a clutch touchdown drive to take an eight-point lead with less than five minutes to go.
It was the defense that faltered, allowing Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and then his backup Kirk Cousins to drive the length of the field in the final minutes for the game-tying score and two-point conversion. However, the next day it was Cameron who was out of a job.
“It’s what I believe is best going forward for our offense and for our football team,” Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said at the time.
The reality was that the decision was based on more than just one game and any sideline disagreement between Cameron and Harbaugh — and television cameras clearly showed one such moment — just accelerated the move.
Flacco has only one interception in six games since Caldwell has taken over play-calling duties and that was in the first half of Caldwell’s first game in his new role. In three playoff games, the Ravens have totaled 90 points and averaged 425 yards of total offense.
●Jan. 2: Middle linebacker Ray Lewis tells his teammates and then the media that he’s retiring at the end of the season.
Lewis, a future Hall of Famer and the longtime face of the franchise, said that he made the decision when he was home in Florida rehabbing his surgically repaired torn right triceps. He opted to let his teammates in on it four days before the Ravens’ playoff opener against the Indianapolis Colts.