OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Unbeaten on American soil after two games, the Baltimore Ravens take their act abroad this week looking to sustain the momentum during their first trip to London.
The Ravens will put their opportunistic defense up against the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1), the designated home team in this Sunday matchup.
After watching Baltimore force a total of 10 turnovers and allow only one touchdown in wins over Cincinnati and Cleveland, coach John Harbaugh probably could do without the change in routine. Instead of taking a short flight to Florida on Saturday night, the Ravens will cross the Atlantic Ocean two days earlier.
“We’re just going to sleep on a plane on Thursday night and after that we’ll be in London,” Harbaugh said Monday. “I can’t really say we care about where we play, in all honesty. We just want to go play the football game.”
Oh, but there’s much more involved that just playing a game. For one thing, there’s adjusting to London time. Then there’s an unfamiliar press corps, a hotel they’ve never seen before and a game in Wembley Stadium, which is known for hosting another brand of football (soccer).
The NFL has been playing in London since 2007, so while this may be the maiden voyage for the Ravens, the league knows a thing or two about setting up shop in England.
“I have not checked out the conditions. I’m counting on the league to have that right,” Harbaugh said. “From what I understand, the place we’re going is where teams have been going. It’s the same hotel teams have been using. We’ve gotten good reports on all that. They’ve been doing this quite a long time now and I think all the kinks have been worked out.”
If he wanted a scouting report, Harbaugh could ask receiver Jeremy Maclin, who played in London as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.
“The crowd was kind of neutral, and as the game goes on they kind of pick a team to start rooting for,” Maclin said. “I think it was kind of cool how we had everyone on our side kind of rooting for us. It’s just a chance for the fans over there to come see American football.”
London has been victimized by several terrorist attacks this year, most recently when a bomb was detonated on a tube train last Friday.
Harbaugh said he and the players won’t shelter themselves due to safety concerns.
“You’ve got to live your life. We’re not going to be cowed,” he insisted. “We’re going to do our thing. It’s what liberty and freedom is all about. That’s what we believe in, that’s what we fight for. We’re not backing down from that.”
On the field, Baltimore is the third team since 1970 NFL merger to have at least four interceptions in each of the first two games of a season. The Ravens forced five turnovers in the opener and did it again Sunday .
“I’m not shocked because I see how fast we play and how hard we play,” Harbaugh said. “Our guys are instinctive kind of players, so I’m not surprised by it. It was there in the preseason also. We just got to keep building on it in every way.”
Offensively, the Ravens will have to do without guard Marshal Yanda, who is done for the season after fracturing his left ankle on Sunday.
“He’ll have surgery soon. He had a couple things in there he had to deal with,” Harbaugh said. “He said in his text to me (Sunday) night that he’ll be back better than ever.”