After the Ravens had a great first three weeks that put them in the national spotlight, the next three made some fans wonder if they would even make the playoffs, currently at 3-3 with what looked to be a dangerous AFC. This fear was fueled with the immediate upcoming schedule which included undefeated Denver, the upstart Cincinnati, undefeated Indianapolis, and the always dangerous Pittsburgh.
After what appeared to be a great time for a bye week, the Ravens attempted to regroup at home against 6-0 Denver, which had also just come off a bye after defeating San Diego on the road. At the start, both teams looked very slow as they relied on their defense to keep them in the game. Steven Hauschka’s two field goals put the Ravens ahead at the half 6-0. Receiving the kickoff, Ladarius Webb returned the ball for a touchdown, giving the Ravens much needed points. After Denver responded with an offensive touchdown from Knowshon Moreno, they would not score again. Baltimore would go into the 4th up 16-7 and scored two offensive touchdowns in the final quarter to win 30-7 in a game many analysts said the Ravens dominated from both sides of the ball.
The Ravens at 4-3 were the oddsmaker favorites to defeat Cincinnati on the road despite losing to the 5-2 Bengals at home less than a month before. Cincinnati came out firing, driving down the field twice in the opening quarter for two touchdowns, with Carson Palmer’s arm and Cedric Benson’s running dominating the Ravens defense. At the end of the first half, the Ravens would be down 17-0, failing to get the offense into Cincinnati territory. A glimmer of hope would come in the fourth when the Ravens finally scored a touchdown on 65-yard drive, but a missed field goal plus a stalwart Bengal defense ended the Ravens comeback attempt, losing 17-7.
Now at 4-4, two major things were being questioned about the Ravens: the high amount of passing with subsequent less rushing on offense, and Steven Hauschka’s kicking. The Ravens passed 32 times to running the ball just 17 plays, and Hauschka missed a 38- yarder that would have put the Ravens within one score in the 4th, just a few weeks after missing the potential game-winner against Minnesota. Baltimore decided to stick with Hauschka as they would have a Monday night game at 1-7 Cleveland.
On national television, the Ravens tried to get back over .500 against the Browns, but problems began early as Hauschka missed a 36-yarder, the second field goal in a row under 39 yards that he had missed including last week. Both offenses were terrible in the first half at went into the locker room scoreless. After getting great field position at the Baltimore-41 after a Cleveland punt, the Ravens took four plays to score a touchdown and finally got on the board. The team continued to have success as on Cleveland’s next offensive play, Dawan Landry intercepted Brady Quinn and returned it for a touchdown. Hauschka missed his extra point, putting the score at 13-0. The defense continued to dominate the Browns offense when after Chris Carr intercepted Quinn, Quinn threw a illegal low block at Terrell Suggs knees, forcing Suggs out of the game. The Ravens would get a 44-yard field goal from Hauschka, scoring on three straight opportunities. Both offenses would go back to their first half performance as the game would end 16-0. The Ravens got the ugly win but at a price, losing Suggs plus they had to deal with Hauschka.
With undefeated Indianapolis coming into Baltimore, the Ravens dropped Steven Hauschka the day after the win over the Browns. With Matt Stover unavailable, who had signed with Indy, the Ravens tried out some kickers, eventually signing Billy Cundiff. Indy began with an opening drive touchdown, fueled by a Peyton Manning pass to Pierre Garcon for 66 yards. After Baltimore responded with a field goal, Dawan Landry intercepted Manning’s next pass, giving the Ravens field position inside the Indy 30, but a three-and-out forced another field goal. Into the 2nd, Ed Reed intercepted Manning and setup the Ravens for another drive. The drive would end in another field goal. The Ravens were happy Cundiff was converting field goals, but they had many opportunities and would not score a touchdown in the game. Indy would respond with a touchdown then the Ravens would kick a fourth field goal before the half, putting the score at Indy 14, Ravens 12. Into the 3rd, luck seemed to be going the Ravens way when Tom Santi fumbled on the Baltimore 4 and Dwan Edwards recovered. The Ravens would drive to the Indy 12, but Cundiff missed wide right on a 30-yarder. On the Ravens next drive Cundiff got another chance to put the Ravens up and did, converting a 20-yarder for a 15-14 lead. Manning and Indy would respond, driving to the Baltimore 7, where former Raven Matt Stover kicked a field goal to put Indy up 17-15. On the next drive, the Ravens had the ball on the Indy-14 on 3rd down when Flacco threw a pick across the middle, and Indy would not lose possession the rest of the game. Baltimore fell to Indy 17-15, falling to 5-5.
The Ravens would now have to face their hated rival, the Steelers, at home. Pittsburgh had a major change going into the game, as coach Mike Tomlin decided not to play Ben Roethlisberger due to concussion symptoms, so third-string quarterback Dennis Dixon, who had thrown all of one pass in the NFL, got the call to start on Sunday night. Pittsburgh got the ball first and went three-and-out, and the Ravens scored a touchdown capped by Willis McGahee on their first drive. But by the third drive Dixon got used to the offense and in the second quarter found Santonio Holmes for a 33-yard touchdown, tying the game at 7. Both sides traded a possession when Baltimore drove down the field and scored a TD, going into the locker room 14-7. Thanks to an early fumble by the Ravens, the Steelers got an early field goal to put the score at 14-10 Ravens. The two sides pushed back and forth into the 4th quarter when Dixon showed his colors from Oregon as he ran 34 yards into the end zone, putting the Steelers up 17-14. The Ravens responded with a field goal at the Pittsburgh 6 to tie the game at 17. After Baltimore missed a 56-yarder at the end of regulation, they went into overtime. On Pittsburgh’s second drive into OT, Dixon threw an interception from midfield at Paul Kruger, who returned it to the Steelers 28. Baltimore would push 17 yards and give Cundiff a 29-yard field goal chance, which he converted for the 20-17 win.
The Ravens improved to 6-5, but the future was still not clear. But, with how the AFC was shaping up, they still had a chance at the wild card.