One of the oddest streaks in sports will live to see another preseason.
The Baltimore Ravens notched their 23rd straight win in preseason on Saturday with a 17-15 win over the Washington Commanders, extending their NFL-record run.
Starring for the Ravens this time were quarterback Anthony Brown Jr., who went 15-of-19 for 256 passing yards and a touchdown, and the recently signed wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, who posted 135 receiving yards on four receptions.
Here they are combining for a 67-yard touchdown:
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 27, 2022
The last time the Ravens lost in preseason was against the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 3, 2015. This year, they added wins over the Tennessee Titans, 23-10, and the Arizona Cardinals, 24-17.
Ravens benched everybody in sight for preseason finale
The Ravens have made it clear to everyone within earshot that this streak means something to them, but it didn't mean enough to make them play anyone of real significance on Saturday. It's hard to blame them, given what happened to the team's running back depth chart last season.
Before the game, ESPN's Jamison Hensley counted 34 players not in uniform, a group headlined by significant players like Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, J.K. Dobbins, Ronnie Stanley, Marlon Humphrey, Calais Campbell, Marcus Williams and Justin Tucker.
The team didn't even play fourth-round rookie punter Jordan Stout, instead turning to undrafted free agent Cameron Dicker.
Just about the only starters who did play were starting center Tyler Linderbaum, who missed a few weeks with a foot injury, and defensive tackle Justin Madubuike. Backup quarterback Tyler Huntley also played a couple series before ceding passing duties to Brown.
How did the Ravens win so many preseason games?
The difference between a streak of 22 straight preseason games won and 22 straight regular season games won is pretty easy to explain. A team that wins 22 real games in a row is very good at football.
In preseason, however, being a good NFL team might actually be counterproductive to winning preseason games, as that could mean even more quality starters to put in bubble wrap. And yet the Ravens have gone 60-37 over the span of the streak.
There could be any number of explanations for how you win 22 straight preseason games. Being well-coached is probably the biggest thing, and the Ravens are known for their strong coaching under John Harbaugh, who clearly takes these matters seriously.
Another big factor could be the quality of a team's undrafted free agents, and the Ravens are among the best in the NFL at finding UDFAs who can make their active roster. It also probably doesn't hurt that one of the Ravens' preseason opponents every year is the nearby Washington Commanders, who are not known for their strong coaching or ability to find diamonds in the rough.
And there is, of course, basic luck. So much has to break right in an NFL game, and preseason only introduces more unreliable variables. So far, those variables haven't taken down the Ravens.