The weirdest win streak in professional sports has survived one more game.
The Baltimore Ravens eked out a 20-19 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday to extend their NFL-record preseason win streak to 24 games. Their last preseason loss was against the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 3, 2015.
That streak had already broken the previous 19-game record held by the Vince Lombardi-era Green Bay Packers, which was passed in 2021.
The Ravens didn’t play their starters or anything to protect the streak. None of Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins, Odell Beckham Jr., Rashod Bateman, Roquan Smith, Marlon Humphrey or Marcus Williams appeared Saturday.
Instead, the Ravens featured a trio of Josh Johnson, Tyler Huntley and Anthony Brown under center, with the trio combining to go 19-of-31 for 139 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Seven different runners, led by Justice Hill and Gus Edwards, combined to post 134 rushing yards on 27 carries.
There may never be another preseason streak like the Ravens’
In most win streaks spanning 20-plus games, it’s actually not that hard to explain what is happening. A really good, usually great, team is firing on all cylinders and maybe getting a bit lucky along the way. Quality leads to wins.
The nature of preseason means that’s not what happened with the Ravens. In theory, a preseason game should be about as close to a coin flip as you see in football, with each team’s second- and third-stringers battling for roster spots. Winning will always be priority No. 3, at best, in a preseason game, behind “don’t get injured” and “figure out which schemes and players work best.” That’s why bad teams can go undefeated in preseason and good teams can go winless, because good players play very few snaps.
Case in point: Jackson has appeared in a grand total of three preseason games since becoming a starter in 2019.
So when a team wins 24 straight preseason games, it defies belief. Sure, the Ravens do have a few things going for them that could explain why they have been so good. The team is one of the best in the NFL at finding diamonds in the rough in undrafted free agency. Head coach John Harbaugh is well-known for being meticulous in his preparations. A run-heavy scheme might make a team less exposed to awful quarterback play, which is an eventuality when you play 23 preseason games.
But none of that explains a 24-game win streak. It’s reductive and, at some point, wrong to say the Ravens are getting lucky, but it might be accurate to say what they’re doing shouldn’t be reproducible in the NFL as it currently operates.
All of these wins in preseason shouldn’t matter, but they at least give us something different to care about in the preseason.