Joe Flacco: 0-3 start will test Ravens' mental toughness

An 0-3 start usually means it's time to start looking at the draft and not looking for miraculous turnarounds.

Of the 21 teams that went winless in their first three games since 2010, 67 percent of them (14 teams) ended in last place in their division. All but one -- the 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers -- finished with a losing record.

The last team to start 0-3 and end with a winning record was the 2004 Buffalo Bills, who went 9-7 behind quarterback Drew Bledsoe and running back Willis McGahee and missed the playoffs.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is enduring the first 0-3 start of his eight-year career, but he understands the challenge that lies before the team.

"If we’re not mentally strong enough -- if we’re not mentally tough -- then there’s definitely a better chance at 0-3 to slip into a bad mode," Flacco said. "It’s definitely a slippery slope."

The Ravens have lost three straight games four previous times under coach John Harbaugh, and they rebounded to make the playoffs in three of those seasons (2008, 2009 and 2012). Flacco made a point to talk about 2012, when Baltimore dropped three in a row in December and hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in February.

"Now it’s going to be a little bit bigger of a test for us this year because we’re 0-3," Flacco said. "If we win one game, it’s not like we can say, ‘Win one game, and we’re in the playoffs.’ It’s win one game, and we’re 1-3. Big deal, we’re 1-3."

If the Ravens lose to Pittsburgh on Thursday night, it basically eliminates all hope. Since the current playoff format started in 1990, only one team that started 0-4 advanced to the postseason -- the 1992 San Diego Chargers. That means 99 percent (84 of 85) of the teams that went winless in their first four games didn't make the playoffs.

"I think that the biggest thing for us is going to be to keep our attitude right, because if we don’t do that, then we’re going to have no chance," Flacco said. "If we do it, man, the fact that we’re 0-3 right now doesn’t mean anything. We have 13 games left. We just have to keep our attitude right, continue to believe that we’re a good football team, and we have to go out there and reel off some wins, and it all starts this week.”