NEW ORLEANS — The Baltimore Ravens flirted with a Super Bowl berth for a few years before getting to it this season.
An improved offense elevated a team that had twice lost in the AFC Championship and twice in the divisional round in the past four years despite having one of the better defenses in the NFL.
“We’re a more complete team, as opposed to in the past just relying on the defense, not losing the game on offense,” Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. “I think we’ve evolved to being a complete team, all three phases: offense, defense, special teams.
“I think there’s certain games this year where you saw the offense take over. You’ve seen places where the defense stood up and seen games where our special teams have just taken over completely.”
Boldin said one of his goals when he signed with Ravens as a free agent two years ago was to help the offense reach the level of the defense.
“Coming from Arizona, we were a high-powered offense, and it was just the opposite for us,” he said. “We felt like we had to score on every possession, so I wasn’t used to being on an offense that was managing a game. Coming here, I definitely didn’t want that label, so we worked our butts off to change it.”
Baltimore practiced before San Francisco on Friday as the teams shared the Saints facility for the second consecutive day after the Ravens decided they didn’t want to continue working on the artificial turf at Tulane.
The 65-minute workout was the final on-field preparation except for a brief walkthrough Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
For the third straight day, all 53 players on the active roster were full participants.
Asked to review the practice week, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said: “It was an A-plus. A-plus-plus. We’re at the stage where we’re clicking on all cylinders and practicing very, very well. I’m very pleased with how the week has gone.’’
Former Ravens owner Art Modell is one of 17 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class for 2013. Four to six inductees will be selected Saturday.
“The National Football League wouldn’t be the same,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. “Isn’t that the measurement, how much better they made our game and the National Football League? By any measurement it wouldn’t be the same, and it wouldn’t be as good as it is right now.
“He changed football. He changed the way that it was perceived. He helped make it the popular game that it is today. He had a vision that very few people had in his time.”
Modell, who died in 2012, will be recognized as “Art” will be sewn on the Ravens jerseys as it has been all season.
Boldin is one of the few Ravens to have played in the Super Bowl, having been there with Arizona four years ago.
Two other Ravens made it to the Super Bowl with previous teams — linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (2006 Bears) and safety James Ihedigbo (2011 Patriots). Linebacker Ray Lewis is the only Raven to have been on the 2000 Super Bowl champion team.
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved