Why John Harbaugh invoked Ricky Bobby

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- While this has yet to be verified by ESPN Stats & Information, the Baltimore Ravens' John Harbaugh likely became the first NFL coach to cite the fictional race car driver Ricky Bobby from the movie "Talladega Nights."

Harbaugh quoted the Will Ferrell character when asked if winning in the preseason is important, saying, "Second is the first loser."

In one of his lighter moments during Monday's media session, Harbaugh then looked at the cameras and said: "All you kids out there – that’s not true in youth sports, or even high school sports, or probably anything in amateur sports. But in pro football, that’s true."

This comes from the coach who didn't know Scarlett Johannson's name when he took his team to see the movie "Lucy" last week, but that is not really the point here.

The Ravens (3-0) are one of four undefeated teams this preseason -- the New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints are the others -- and are one win away from preseason perfection.

Harbaugh believes that how a team fares in the preseason carries over into the regular season.

"How you play in the preseason matters," Harbaugh said. "Now, there’s been 0-4 teams that have gone on to win Super Bowls. Somebody can call B.S. on that and say that’s not right, but I think it matters. I want to go out there and play well. We should play well, because if we’re a good football team, we should play well every time we go out there."

Going undefeated in the preseason doesn't always lead to success in the regular season. In the previous six years, only four of the 11 teams who ended the preseason perfect went on to the playoffs. But it should be noted that the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl last season after going 4-0 in the preseason.

In Harbaugh's defense, the Ravens have used the preseason as a springboard for the regular season. When the Ravens reached the playoffs for five straight seasons (2008-12), they were 13-7 (.650).

"We’re going to go out there and fight, but I want to fight and play well, no matter what," Harbaugh said. "The scoreboard’s going to be lit up for a reason, and we’re going to try and be on the top part of that.”

Like most years under Harbaugh, most of the starters won't play in Thursday's preseason finale in New Orleans. But no one should accuse Harbaugh of packing it in before the start of the regular season.

"We don’t go down there [to New Orleans] to not win the game," Harbaugh said. "We are going to do everything we can to win the game. If we walk off the field without the win, I’m not going to be happy about it. I want to walk over and shake the other coach’s hand as the winner -- not the loser."

Ricky Bobby would be proud.