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Raven tough
Team's bumpy ride to a championship won for a city that keeps the faith

Date published: 2/6/2013

AFTER the Baltimore Ravens lost four of their last five regular- season games, their playoff run was dubbed "improbable" by a national media that so relishes a Cinderella story it will concoct one that isn't really there. America's football nation bought in, and the Ravens were underdogs for each of the four playoff games they won en route to their second Super Bowl championship on Sunday.

For Ravens fans in our mid-Atlantic region, the outlook was entirely different. The team reflects its city's underdog status and its blue-collar work ethic: We have our problems and our run of misfortune, but if we keep at it, keep believing, and keep our chin up, good things will happen.

It worked last season for the city's other Birds--finally--as the Orioles posted their first winning season and playoff victory in 15 years.

As for the Ravens, they have been on the cusp of greatness for five years. Like those other seasons, this one began with promise but proceeded to tribulation. Injuries to key players, upset losses, a defense that seemed past its prime. Then, the late-season woes. But the fans kept the faith, and the playoffs showed it was justified. First, a win at home over the Colts, who abandoned the city in 1984. Then the Miracle at Mile High. Then the dismantling of the Patriots.

The two-week wait for the Super Bowl in New Orleans was interminable. Underdogs again. The Joe Flacco doubters. The saga of retiring linebacker Ray Lewis, a checkered figure elsewhere, but a motivational dynamo in Baltimore.

And finally, The Game. Ravens up 28-6 in the third quarter, but Baltimore fans know no lead is safe. Then the Superdome blackout. Big Mo gets lost. The 49ers rally.

Is the outcome in doubt? Maybe.

But it all comes down to defense, and the Ravens' undaunted, stalwart defense makes a heroic goal-line stand.

Game over.

Quoth the Ravens: Cinderella we never were.

POSTSCRIPT

Super Bowl XLVII continued the half-time tradition of showcasing female singers apparently unable to perform except while wearing lingerie in public. During the game, the camera caught assorted players and coaches angrily mouthing the Big Fricative. A Taco Bell commercial featured very old people gyrating lewdly on a disco floor: The elderly have lost much--now it is thought amusing to rob them of their dignity, too.

Blue-collar Baltimore may have won the game, but the libertine ethos of San Francisco dominated the day. How appropriate that Super Bowls are designated with the numerals of Rome.