"You see it league wide. For some reason, it's been a little more pronounced here," tight end Dennis Pitta
said of the team's play at home and on the road. "I think we haven't played some of our best football in some of these road games but we still came away with wins, which is important. To be sitting at 7-2 right now, we feel good where we're at. We've got some momentum now going into a brutal stretch of our schedule."
At this point, the Ravens have the NFL's second-best record and looked like a 7-2 team for one of the few times Sunday. While some will discredit the Ravens' win by pointing out that the Raiders didn't have their top two running backs, Baltimore also played without defensive tackle Haloti Ngata
(shoulder) and cornerback Jimmy Smith
(abdomen). The Ravens limited the Raiders to 20 points despite starting their No. 4 corner (Corey Graham
) and rookie seventh-round pick (DeAngelo Tyson
) at defensive tackle.
It's become a tight race with the Ravens holding a 1.5-game lead over the Steelers (5-3) in the AFC North as well as a one-game advantage over the Patriots (6-3) and Broncos (6-3) for the No. 2 seed in the AFC.
There's still seven games left in the regular season, but Pitta acknowledged that "it's never too early" to start looking at the scoreboard.
"We're going to be rooting against those guys because it's going to help us position ourselves better," Pitta said of watching the Texans. "We're at the point of the season where all these games become really critical towards playoff positioning. Yeah, we're going to keep a close eye on some of these games."
Harbaugh said last week that there was no such thing as a "homecoming game" in the NFL. All that was missing Sunday were the parade and floats.
This blowout came at the right time for the Ravens. The average margin of victory for Baltimore's last five wins was 4.6 points. A 35-point victory can do wonders for the Ravens' psyche heading into road games at Pittsburgh (which has won six straight home games) and at San Diego (where the Ravens lost by 20 points last season).
"You could talk about confidence, but confidence is really built by playing well, right?" Harbaugh said. "You prove yourself that you can do well, and you become more confident. So, that's got to a plus for us. We feel like we're in the position where we wanted to be. Now, we have to go in there and put our best foot forward and play the best we can and see what happens."
For the Ravens, they hope the road leads them back home for the playoffs.