OWINGS MILLS – Instead of swaggering around their training complex and basking in the afterglow of stomping the defending AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens immediately got back to
And they insist they're taking the winless Tennessee Titans extremely seriously heading into today's road game at LP Field.
That approach mirrors how the Ravens (1-0) have gone about their business during three seasons under coach John Harbaugh. By not falling prey to overconfidence or slacking on preparation, the Ravens have gone 18-1 against teams with losing records over the past three years.
The only time they fell to a team with a losing record during the Harbaugh era was in the second game of last season when they absorbed a 15-10 defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals after opening the season with a big win over the New York Jets.
How does Harbaugh get his football team to avoid taking teams lightly?
"We have smart guys, we have guys who understand that every week in this league you're playing a very good football team," Harbaugh said. "Every time we go into one of these games it gets characterized as a ‘letdown game' are the terms that you guys use that none of our guys are foolish enough to use because it's just foolishness to put a tag on it like that. It makes no sense at all, so I'm embarrassed for you when you even say that.
"There is no such thing as that in the National Football League. Every game is a challenge. You want to write a story like that, and there is no story because this is the National Football League and the Tennessee Titans are a very good football team who are ready to play us."
The Titans have lost nine of their past 10 regular-season games, but still have enough viable players to be considered at least somewhat dangerous even though star running back Chris Johnson rushed for only 24 yards on nine carries.
He's still a former NFL Offensive Player of the Year who gained 2,006 yards two seasons ago and is primed for a featured role today.
The Titans feature an imposing, fast wide receiver in Kenny Britt, who caught five passes for 136 yards with an 80-yard touchdown and another score during the Titans' 16-14 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars to start the season.
And they have an experienced new quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck still getting acclimated to his new surroundings and personnel. Hasselbeck is a bridge player to rookie quarterback Jake Locker.
Former offensive line coach Mike Munchak, a Hall of Fame lineman, is a rookie head coach.
So, what worries Harbaugh about the Titans?
"Well, how long you got? Harbaugh said. "Playmakers on offense is probably the first thing that sticks out, a defense that flies around. Just a very physical, aggressive football team."
Nonetheless, the Titans didn't finish 6-10 a year ago by accident.
And the Titans struggled to stop the run a week ago as Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew ran roughshod over their banged-up defensive line as Jacksonville gained 163 rushing yards.
Meanwhile, the Ravens piled up 170 rushing yards as Ray Rice rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries against the NFL's top-ranked run defense from last season. The Ravens finished with 385 yards of total offense against Pittsburgh.
"Those are professionals over there, we've got to prepare for them," free safety Ed Reed said. "They had a tight game at Jacksonville last week, and we had a grueling game against our divisional opponent. So, we're not thinking about that. If we did have a loss, it wouldn't be a letdown because it's still a long season. We're going to be prepared to play this game."
That's what concerns the Titans.
They're squaring off with a tradition-rich defense that established a franchise record by forcing seven turnovers against the Steelers, including a pair of interceptions from Reed.
"They made a statement with the first game, a statement around the league about what kind of defense they plan on having this year," Hasselbeck said. "The Steelers are a team that everyone knows. They are traditionally physical, but the Ravens just played an amazing game."
Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs registered three sacks against the Steelers, and franchise defensive tackle Haloti Ngata forced a fumble and recovered two.
"When I turn the film on them, I see how hard they play," Munchak said. "They got great pressure on the quarterback. Suggs is the guy you always have to watch.
"I thought I saw a similar team as far as being successful with what they do: being physical, playing hard and got the ball back. That's what aggressive defenses do, and they did it again in a big way this past Sunday."
One big factor this week is dealing with their unfamiliarity with the Titans, a team they once shared a fierce rivalry with during the old AFC Central days and have split the all-time series 8-8. However, they haven't played Tennessee since a 13-10 AFC divisional playoff game victory over the Titans during the 2008 season.
A lot has changed for both teams since then. Baltimore has 20 new players and eight new starters from last year.
"That's definitely an issue," Harbaugh said. "There's not a lot of tape out there because you've got the preseason games and you've got one regular season game with a new head coach and new coordinators on both sides of the ball. The only coordinator that's still there, really, is the special teams coordinator. So, there's not much tape to look at right now."
The Ravens don't have a history of dwelling on their past games against the Steelers, win or lose.
Following regular-season encounters with Pittsburgh over the past three seasons, the Ravens have won four of six games.
Even the stay-on-message Ravens acknowledge that going after Hasselbeck lacks the feeling they get from hitting Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
"It's a little bit more personal with the last than it is with this one, but it's always business as usual," Suggs said. "I think first things first is definitely Chris Johnson and then Hasselbeck."
NOTE: The Ravens cut backup inside linebacker Jason Phillips and signed cornerback Danny Gorrer to the active roster from the practice squad.
A former Ravens fifth-round draft pick from Texas Christian, Phillips was inactive for the season-opener after suffering a concussion.
He made the team ahead of linebackers Prescott Burgess and Tavares Gooden.
However, the Ravens' lack of cornerback depth due to injuries for cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (high-ankle sprain) and Chris Carr (left hamstring) prompted this roster move.
Gorrer is a 6-foot, 185-pound former Texas A&M player signed last year who spent most of last season on the Ravens' practice squad.
Gorrer originally signed with the New Orleans Saints as a rookie free agent two years ago.
He has seen action in three NFL games, all with the St. Louis Rams, making one start on Dec. 27, 2009 against Arizona.
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