BALTIMORE – The Baltimore Ravens were perfect at home during the regular season and a .500 team on the road, which explains why they were so desperate to host at least one playoff game this month.
There are many theories as to why the Ravens are so much better at home. Familiarity with their surroundings? Check. The noise generated by their 71,000 supportive fans? Absolutely. The Sportexe synthetic turf at M&T Bank Stadium?
According to Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak, whose team faces Baltimore today in the second round of the AFC playoffs, the Ravens will have the advantage of playing before a boisterous home crowd and on a field that’s seemingly custom-made for Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice.
“First off, the noise obviously is tough. But they get even better on that turf,” Kubiak said. “To me, they get even quicker coming off the edges and setting the edges and what they do, so that makes them even more difficult. I think Ray, as great a player as he is, he even gets a step better on that turf running the ball.”
Kubiak watched Rice run for 101 yards in October, helping Baltimore roll to a 29-14 home win over the Texans.
But while Rice has proven to be effective at home or on the road, on grass or on artificial turf, the Ravens (12-4) are unquestionably more dominant in Baltimore. And that is one big reason why the Ravens believe this playoff run will be more successful than the three that preceded it.
Baltimore is the only NFL team to reach the playoffs in each of the last four seasons.
Now, coming off a bye and playing in a venue where they went 8-0 during the regular season, the AFC North champions are confident that home-field advantage will be a big factor in their bid to defeat the Texans (11-6) and make the conference title game.