OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- If the Baltimore Ravens want to make the playoffs this year, they're going to have to figure out why they've become so bad on the road these days.
The Ravens are 1-4 away from M&T Bank Stadium and are losing in some memorable (or forgettable) ways. Peyton Manning tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes against Baltimore in Denver. Joe Flacco threw a career-worst five interceptions in Buffalo. And the Ravens watched their 11-game winning streak over the Browns end in a loss in Cleveland.
Next stop for the Ravens is Chicago's Soldier Field, a place where they've never won. The players are scratching their head over being one of the worst road teams in the NFL this season.
“I think the craziest part is that we all love it. We all love being hated," linebacker Jameel McClain said. "The road, it’s a special type of game, to me. You get the opportunity to feed off the energy of the stands -- in a negative manner. A lot of guys thrive off of that. We all know one of the most notorious people in the league is Terrell [Suggs]. He thrives off of the opponent’s energy. We are looking forward to it.”
The Ravens used to be one of the best road teams in the league. In coach John Harbaugh's first five seasons (2008-12), the Ravens were 21-19 (.525) on the road, which was tied for the sixth-best mark in the NFL.
The biggest change in Flacco on the road this season has been turnovers. From 2008 to 2012, Flacco threw 32 interceptions on the road, or less than one per game. This season, he has been picked off in four of five road games, throwing nine interceptions in five games away from home. Only the Cincinnati Bengals' Andy Dalton has thrown more interceptions on the road this year (10).
"You deal with the little things here and there about playing on the road, but I don’t ever see it being that crazy," Flacco said. "Obviously, over the years, we’ve tended to play better at home. I can’t necessarily put my finger on what it is. Maybe it just tends to be that way. Most teams tend to play better at home -- who knows? I’m not worried about that. We’ve just got to go out there -- I don’t care where we are playing -- and we’ve just got to get a win. Having said that, we’ve just got to continue to take care of when we do play at home. That’s just not the focus this week.”
Where the Ravens have never played well is at NFC North stadiums. The Ravens are 0-7 in games played at Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota and Detroit. They're winless in two games in Soldier Field, losing there in 1998 and 2005.