Scouting Report: Baltimore Ravens

Two weeks ago, when the Ravens played the unbeaten New England Patriots, the players called it their Super Bowl. As the Ravens prepare to play the winless Miami Dolphins, the players have placed the same emphasis on this game. Some have even called it a "must win."

"If we go down there and lose ... it could get really ugly around here," cornerback Corey Ivy said. "We don't want that. We want to keep some kind of sanity around here."

While the Dolphins have lost all 13 games, the Ravens have the NFL's second-longest current losing streak at seven.

The Ravens understand the importance of this game.

"We ain't going to quit," linebacker Bart Scott said. "You don't want to be the guy on Miami's record ... (where) the only team they beat was the Ravens."

The losing streaks of the Ravens and the Dolphins are equally frustrating, but the Ravens have a better explanation for theirs.

During their seven-game skid, the Ravens have lost to four division leaders (New England, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and San Diego) and another team closing in on a playoff berth (Cleveland).

Miami has lost by 18 points to Oakland, by 21 to Buffalo and by 27 to the New York Jets. Taking away their wins over the Dolphins, those teams are a combined 9-25 against the rest of the NFL.

"Both teams are desperate for a win," Ravens coach Brian Billick said of Sunday's game at the Dolphins. "That is going to make it a heated competition."

The Ravens need to regain their confidence on offense and defense.

On offense, the Ravens have had trouble not turning the ball over. Kyle Boller (nine interceptions and four fumbles) and Steve McNair (four interceptions and seven fumbles) have combined for twice as many turnovers (24) as touchdown passes (10).

On defense, they have had trouble keeping teams out of the end zone. The Ravens, who allowed the fewest points last season (12.6), has now given up the ninth most in the NFL this season (24.2).

Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor said the pressure is on the Ravens because they don't want to lose to a winless team.

"The pressure is on both teams," receiver Derrick Mason said. "You don't want to be the team that goes 0-16, and on the flip side of that, we don't want to be the team that loses to a team that hasn't won up until this point. I think he played it smart. He threw the pressure card on our side, but in actuality, I think it's more of a mutual thing."

NOTES, QUOTES

-- Brian Billick said he has not been told by Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti that he will return as coach next season because the evaluation process doesn't begin until the season ends.

But Billick did not back off his stance that he thinks he will remain coach of the Ravens.

"It's my intention to be back. I have no reason to believe I won't be back," Billick said. "There's no guarantees for anybody but I'm very confident in the direction that we're going and (that) the support of the administration is there."

-- Coming back from shooting a commercial in New York, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis endured a harrowing helicopter ride through fog and rain before landing in a field near Baltimore.

Lewis called the experience one of the scariest moments of his life.

"I put on my headphones, and I just started praying," he said. "But it makes you appreciate life. That's when I started thinking, 'Wow. We are so selfish to think about so many things that are out of our control, but when your life is tested like that.'"

-- Tight end Todd Heap said he has not considered ending his season and going on injured reserve to heal a strained hamstring.

Heap, who has only played twice in the last nine games and did not practice Wednesday, said he had been hoping to play against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday night, but "re-tweaked" the hamstring during practice before the game.

"It's about as frustrating as it gets when you know you can't be out there -- good or bad -- helping the team," said the franchise's all-time leader in receiving yards and receptions. "All I can do is do everything I can to try to get out on the field, and that's what I've been doing. We'll see what happens."

-- The Ravens are 0-9 when not scoring first.

-- The Ravens have lost seven straight games for the first time in the team's 12-year existence. They haven't won a game since Oct. 14.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Road wins by the Ravens this season. Their only victory away from home came in San Francisco, where they won 9-7.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Anytime you get on a streak, it tests you as a team. It tests the confidence that the players have in the coaches, in themselves and with one another. It's those last two that you worry about ... because it weighs on you. That's what this team is fighting off right now. We have an opportunity to try to come of it at least for a game." -- Coach Brian Billick, on the adversity that comes with a losing streak.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Ravens placed cornerback Chris McAlister (knee) on injured reserve and signed Willie Gaston. Corey Ivy will start for McAlister and Derrick Martin will play nickel back.

The Ravens placed Steve McNair on injured reserve after he had surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff. Kyle Boller will be the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season.

With linebacker Jarret Johnson wearing a protective cast to protect his broken thumb, rookie fourth-round pick Antwan Barnes will see a lot of time as a pass rusher.

No. 3 receiver Demetrius Williams could miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury. In his place, Devard Darling will be the third wideout.

Rookie Marshal Yanda will make his fourth straight start at right tackle in place of Adam Terry. Terry has been benched because of ineffective play.

INJURY IMPACT: QB Steve McNair (shoulder) is on injured reserve. Boller will start in his place.

-- WR Demetrius Williams is expected to miss his fifth straight game with an ankle sprain. He will be replaced by Devard Darling.

-- TE Todd Heap is expected to be sidelined for the eighth time in 10 games with a hamstring injury. He has said he still wants to try and play in the final two games of the season. He will be replaced by Daniel Wilcox.

-- CB Samari Rolle missed his second straight practice with a shoulder injury, which is not an encouraging sign. He is expected to be sidelined Sunday and be replaced by Derrick Martin.

-- CB Derrick Martin is expected to start in place of Samari Rolle on Sunday. Rolle has missed two practices with a shoulder injury.

-- RB Willis McGahee was added to the injury report Thursday with a foot injury. This should not limit him for Sunday. The Ravens are expected to rely on McGahee heavily against the Dolphins, who have the league's worst run defense.

-- NT Kelly Gregg had a full practice after being limited Wednesday. He is expected to start Sunday and is one of the big keys in the Ravens run defense.

-- S Ed Reed was added to the injury report Thursday with a hip injury. But this won't hinder him Sunday. He has had this injury for weeks and he has played every game.


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