(Reuters) - With each excruciating defeat, the Baltimore Ravens find themselves in the unfamiliar position of looking up at the rest of the NFL.
The Ravens suffered another loss on Monday, 26-18 to the Arizona Cardinals, and dropped to the very bottom of the league with a 1-6 record.
Baltimore is a perennial contender in the AFC North, not far removed from their Super Bowl win in the 2012 season, and has not faced a losing campaign since 2007.
But they appear headed for another one despite the fight they continue to display each week.
“One thing I know is those guys in the locker room, they’re fighting with everything they got to win a game,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters following their latest setback.
“You have to find a way to overcome it.”
Despite their abysmal record, Baltimore has repeatedly come up short by the narrowest of margins sustaining all of their losses by eight points or less. Their traditionally stout defense has not been up to standard, hurt by the loss of linebacker and leader Terrell Suggs, who had a season-ending torn Achilles in the opener against Denver.
Quarterback Joe Flacco has been uneven thus far, and one of the only consistent bright spots for the offense is wide receiver Steve Smith.
Smith, 36, might best embody the tough spirit of the team despite their standing.
In what is expected to be Smith’s final season, the aging veteran wears body armor to protect his mounting injuries and still plays with a ferocity that has made him one of the game’s indelible characters.
The Ravens hope that they, too, can still shine beyond their circumstances before it is too late. “It’s going to be a fight to the end,” Flacco said. “We’re not going to give up.”
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Sudipto Ganguly