OWINGS MILLS - A combative John Harbaugh had zero interest in dwelling on the Baltimore Ravens' latest road setback, comparing it to previous defeats or engaging in an amateur psychological debate about his football team.
One day after an embarrassing 22-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks where kick returner David Reed lost two fumbles, the running game was abandoned and Marshawn Lynch repeatedly grinded out yards against the Baltimore defense, the Ravens returned from the Pacific Northwest eager to move on to a pivotal AFC North game Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
And Harbaugh bristled at questions exploring the similarities between previous road losses this season to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans that followed emotional wins.
"I'm not a psychologist," Harbaugh said. "I think what you do is you look at football. You look at what you can do better as a football team. We're moving forward. We took responsibility for the loss. We did not play well. I'm surprised I haven't gotten any questions about the game. I guess that's too straightforward.
"We've won some other football games that people didn't expect us to win, against some really good football teams. So, tie the psychology together on that for me. I don't have time to be looking at that. We're going back to football. We'll study the football, as a football team. We'll have our answers in-house. That will be football-related answers, and we'll come out to play on Sunday."
Undefeated in four home games, the Ravens' inability to handle success following big victories over the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Houston Texans could come back to haunt them as they chase a division title and possibly home-field advantage for the postseason.
Now, the Ravens (6-3) are tied for second with the Bengals (6-3) in the division, owning the tiebreaker over the first-place Steelers (7-3), who are a half-game up in the AFC North.
Harbaugh took umbrage at a suggestion that he was whitewashing the Seahawks game and immediately turning the page toward the Bengals.
"We're going to do everything we can to eliminate the negatives and build on and make more positives and win the next football game," he said. "If you're insinuating that we just ignore what happened in the past, you definitely haven't been paying attention the last four years of what we've been doing here.
"It's not our job to lick everybody else's wounds for them. Licking wounds? No. We're not licking any wounds. We are moving on. That's what we do."
The Ravens fell behind 19-7 by halftime against the Seahawks primarily due to Reed's fumbles and a flat offense.
The Ravens also failed to utilize Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice much at all. He rushed for 19 yards on four carries in the first half, catching two passes for six yards.
Rice would carry the ball exactly once in the second half, finishing the game with five rushes for 27 yards. He did catch eight passes for 54 yards, but it's an unusually small workload for him.
Rice politely declined interview requests after the game, saying he would reserve his comments until Wednesday because: "I don't want to say the wrong thing right now."
"Ray understands football," Harbaugh said. "Ray knows what kinds of fronts we were getting and what the situation of the game was. Ray and I talk all the time, and he knows football."
The Ravens rushed for only 75 yards on 12 carries, averaging 6.3 yards per rush.
"I'm not going to rip the coaches," center Matt Birk said. "Circumstances kind of dictate what happens to a certain extent. Most teams probably want to shut down Ray Rice. We still have to find a way. When we do call his number, we've got to block it up and get him to the second level and in positions where he's at his best. When you're trying to play catch-up and other teams know that, it's hard to stay balanced."
And wide receiver Anquan Boldin pointed out that Rice needs to be a big part of the game plan.
"Ray definitely has to get involved," Boldin said. "I guess it was a situation where we were down and it kind of took him out of the game."
Harbaugh insisted that he wouldn't change the run-pass ratio due to the Seahawks crowding the line of scrimmage with an outside linebacker and a strong safety, essentially daring the Ravens to throw it downfield.
They did so regularly, albeit without much accuracy on intermediate or long passes as quarterback Joe Flacco attempted a career-high 52 throws for 29 completions, 255 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a pedestrian 67.4 passer rating.
"I don't know how you would do it any differently," Harbaugh said. "We were in a situation where we lost two possessions. When you don't have very many plays, it's hard to build up your running game. And when you're down, you've got to throw it to get back in the game.
"I think every game is different. You've got to do in any particular game what you've got to do to try to move the ball. In the end, we definitely want to have more runs. The way the game went, we had to throw it. Based on some fronts they were giving us early, we felt like we had to throw it, too."
In regards to Rice, there was a commonality from the loss to Jacksonville.
Against the Jaguars and the Seahawks, Rice had only 13 touches as he had eight carries for 28 yards against the Jaguars with five catches for 35 yards.
"Every game stands on its own two feet," Harbaugh said. "The comparisons that people want to draw between the three games, you can draw that all you want. That's all hypothetical, theoretical stuff.
"When you know football, you understand that the schemes that you see and the situations that you face are different in every single game. No, I didn't see a lot more opportunities to run the ball."
Regardless, the Ravens need to quickly regroup and learn from their mistakes.
They host the Bengals on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium followed by a quick turnaround with a Thanksgiving game four days later in the so-called Harbaugh Bowl against the 8-1 San Francisco 49ers coached by Jim Harbaugh, Harbaugh's brother.
Consistency has eluded the Ravens every time they win a big game this year.
"We can't come out lackadaisical," free safety Ed Reed said. "You got to win these games to be one of those elite teams like we're claiming to be. If we're claiming to be that team, we got to come out and play week to week. It can't be elite one week and ‘Unnecessary Roughness' the next week. It's got to be every time."
The Ravens have displayed a troubling tendency to play down to the level of their opponents.
"These are the kind of games you have to have, especially against teams and opponents you're supposed to beat," fullback Vonte Leach said. "We came out flat."
The loss definitely stung the Ravens, who endured a long plane ride home after being beaten by the Seahawks
"Frustrated, confused, pissed off," defensive lineman Arthur Jones wrote on his Twitter account Monday. "Somebody prayer for me. I need a direction !!!"
Added Harbaugh: "I expect them to be hurt. This is a bunch of pros, they work very hard at it, they take a lot of pride in what they do."
The Ravens have made the playoffs each of the past three years, but haven't reached the the AFC championship game since Harbaugh's first season.
With seven remaining games, the Ravens could either win the division or fail to qualify for the postseason depending on how they rebound from another draining loss.
"The story of the season is going to be written at the end," Harbaugh said. "I am not writing that story now. The story for us as a football team is this week. You look at last week, and you correct it.
"All the other story lines, I'd like to give you an answer. But I'm really not interested, to be honest with you. So, you guys can write that story. It's not my job to have that answer for you."
Notebook: Ravens searching for kickoff returner
OWINGS MILLS – The fallout from David Reed losing two fumbles on kickoff returns during the Baltimore Ravens' loss to the Seattle Seahawks has triggered a renewed search for a primary kickoff returner.
"I think we're looking for our kick returner," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday, one day removed from Reed's turnovers directly leading to a pair of Steve Hauschka field goals.
Reed also committed a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Harbaugh pointed out that starting cornerback Lardarius Webb is likely the top option, but he's too valuable on defense to expose to that much contact.
"Probably Webb is our best guy if you look at it, but he's a starting corner and he's our punt returner," Harbaugh said of Webb, who ran back a kickoff for a touchdown as a rookie. "You can't put too much on any one guy's plate. So, we're looking for the best guy to do it."
The Ravens' other options on kickoff returns. include cornerback Chris Carr, who returned one kickoff for 20 yards, and wide receiver Torrey Smith, who returned a kickoff 24 yards, and rookie LaQuan Williams. Williams has averaged 21.8 yards on five kickoff returns.
Reed led the NFL in kickoff return average with a 29.3 average as a rookie last season when he set a franchise record with a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Houston Texans.
However, the former fifth-round draft pick from Utah has fumbled three times in the past two games.
"You can't turn the ball over, that's job one," Harbaugh said. "David knows that. That's something he works on very hard. You can't turn the ball over, especially in a kickoff return situation. That's just not something we're going to be able to deal with and expect to win football games."
Reed is averaging 28.6 yards per kickoff return this season with a long return of 77 yards against the Tennessee Titans to rank second in the AFC.
He missed two games with a shoulder injury and was suspended for the season-opener for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy.
"It's a little hump I've got to get over," Reed said. "It's very frustrating, just got to bounce back. I let my teammates down. It was bad. I don't feel good at all."
According to Harbaugh, Reed also missed open lanes on returns against Seattle. Special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg was critical of Reed last week.
"The kickoff returns were actually probably the best blocked that we've had all year," Harbaugh said. "And I didn't know that last night, but after watching the tape, I thought we blocked those kickoff returns pretty well. So, that's the thing.
"There are some encouraging things in there, even though the result couldn't have been any worse. You fight through that, you don't overreact. You definitely don't panic, and you get better."
The Ravens have had other problems on special teams this season.
They allowed a 107-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to New York Jets running back Joe McKnight and an 82-yard punt return for a score to Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson.
"I think we're young there," Harbaugh said. "That's not an excuse because you've got to be young there, you've got to train guys up. But there's a lot of learning going on there right now. If you dig in and look at it very closely, we're actually getting a lot better, but it's not showing up in the results."
Meanwhile, Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff has now missed 1 of 6 kicks from 50 yards and beyond after misfiring from 50 and 52 yards against the Seahawks. The 50-yarder could be attributed to long snapper Morgan Cox skidding his snap to holder Sam Koch, throwing off the timing of the operation.
Harbaugh pointed out that Cundiff connected on two 58-yard field goals prior to kickoff Sunday.
Going forward, the Ravens might be hesitant to kick longer field goals.
"It could, especially with the weather getting a little tougher," Harbaugh said. "The operation has everything to do with it. It's a team effort out there, the three guys in the operation and the protection. There were some things in there that made it a little tough on him. That's part of it. That was disappointing."
The Seahawks scored a touchdown following Cundiff's miss.
"Those kind of long kicks are never easy," Harbaugh said. "You really don't want to give up that field position, which is a fair point."
INJURY UPDATE: Although defensive lineman Arthur Jones suffered a concussion Sunday, the Ravens reported no injuries after the game.
"No injuries to report at this time," Harbaugh said. "Thanks for asking."
The Ravens aren't required to file an injury report until Wednesday.
Harbaugh was noncommittal when asked if veteran wide receiver Lee Evans will play this week.
Evans has been sidelined since the second game of the season due to a left ankle injury and has caught only two passes for 45 yards since being acquired in a trade from the Buffalo Bills..
"I think we'll see," Harbaugh said. "That's to be determined. Always hopeful, but we'll have to see."
DRAGGING: The Ravens' defense was stout against the Seahawks despite several turnovers forcing sudden-change situations.
However, they allowed the Seahawks to run out the final 5 minutes and 52 seconds behind powerful running back Marshawn Lynch. Lynch rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries.
Was fatigue an issue?
The Seahawks controlled the football for 35 minutes and one second, running 70 offensive plays for 327 yards.
"You can't be tired," Harbaugh said. "You get stops. I think they made some third-down conversions, I think that's what happened. We had two plays specifically in there where they made some really good plays. I mean Marshawn made a great jump cut. Give him credit. I thought Tarvaris Jackson made a nice throw into Golden Tate on a sideline route. That's what kept the drive alive."
QUICK HITS: Harbaugh had no interest in a public self-evaluation of his adjustments. "I'm not going to rate it," he said. "You rate it. I'm not getting into ratings. What we're getting into is the Cincinnati Bengals." … Harbaugh is impressed with Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton.
"From what I have seen, he is really, really good," Harbaugh said. "Obviously, he has stepped up. He is playing winning football. He makes a lot of good decisions. He challenges you at every level, inside, outside and top to bottom. He challenges your coverages, makes very few mistakes, gets the ball out quick. I think he is running that offense really well."
Harbaugh wouldn't bite when asked about the upcoming Harbaugh Bowl against his brother, Jim Harbaugh, and the San Francisco 49ers on Thanksgiving at M&T Bank Stadium. "This week is Cincinnati," Harbaugh said. "Next week will be whoever we play next week, whenever we play them, but this week is Cincinnati. Absolutely. I couldn't care less who we play next week. Honestly. You almost got me."
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