Ravens' season a success?

Ravens' season a success?
January 12, 2013, 3:15 am
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The NFL punditry and the betting line points to Saturday as the last day of the Ravens season. So if the Ravens lose to the Broncos in the divisional round of the playoffs, should their season be considered a success or a failure?

*On the one hand, the Ravens won the AFC North. On the other hand, it took them extra weeks to clinch, all the way to the next-to-last game of the regular season.

*On the one hand, the Ravens made it five straight years with a playoff win. On the other hand, they would finish one game short of last season.

*On the one hand, Joe Flacco had games when he looked every bit the elite quarterback. On the other hand, Flacco had games when he looked far from it.

*On the one hand, the Ravens made a move away from the often-criticized offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. On the other hand, they did it during the season, something championship-caliber teams don’t do.

*On the one hand, the Ravens landed plenty of players in the Pro Bowl. On the other hand, at least a couple of them — defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and safety Ed Reed — appeared to get in on reputation more than 2012 performance.

*On the one hand, Ray Lewis announced his retirement and made a triumphant, emotional final appearance at M&T Bank Stadium in the Ravens’ playoff win over the Colts, in which he played far beyond expectations in his first game back from an in-season triceps tear. On the other hand … No, there’s no other hand on this one.

So where does that leave us as far as an answer? Success or failure? Would the nature of a loss Saturday matter? Would a close defeat change the perception of the season as opposed to another rout by Denver?

One man’s opinion: Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, mark this as a successful season. Given what could have been devastating injuries to Terrell Suggs, Lardarius Webb and Lewis, the Ravens defense bent — and sometimes bent a lot — but held together enough to help produce another playoff berth. The optimism that the Ravens would go no-huddle crazy and transform into an offensive machine that would carry the team turned out to be overstated, but things did open up, even while Cameron was still employed by the club. With the emergence of rookie Bernard Pierce, the Ravens have a true 1-2 punch with Ray Rice and him sharing the running back slot.

So, overall, everything considered, it’s been a good season for the Ravens.