Besides addressing their pass coverage, pass rush, passing offense and pass blocking, the Ravens have to be concerned about the passage of time. As in, there's a finite amount of time for Baltimore (0-1) to dwell on lingering issues exposed in a 34-15 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The coaching staff is intent on correcting miscues that contributed heavily to the defeat to the defending AFC North division champions. Yet, the Ravens have to turn the figurative page quickly as they return to practice today in preparation for Sunday's home opener at M&T Bank Stadium against another familiar rival.
The Browns (0-1) had a sketchy offensive performance in a 9-6 defeat to the Indianapolis Colts. "You don't have the time and that self-pity serves no purpose," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "The players can't get into that mode. I know our disappointment is only matched or exceeded by our fans. All I can offer up is that we will be a better team than what we played [Sunday]."
Baltimore allowed Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox to complete 72 percent of his passes, including eight in a row at one point. Maddox went 21-for-29 for 260 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He leads the league in passer rating (134.3) and is second in yards per attempt (8.97). "I couldn't believe that was the Baltimore Ravens defense out there," cornerback Corey Fuller said.
Pittsburgh wideouts Plaxico Burress and Hines Ward caught six passes for 116 yards and nine passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns, respectively. "Our defense has to play better," Billick said. "They played physical. I thought we played the run very well, but we made some mental errors. Errors that I know we know better."
Meanwhile, Cleveland was limited to two field goals in the debut of new quarterback Kelly Holcomb despite two first-and-goal possessions inside the Colts' 3. Last season, the Browns scored 344 points to earn a wild-card playoff berth behind a passing game that generated 3,412 yards and 27 touchdowns. "Cleveland is a good team, but our focus is us right now," safety Ed Reed said.
The Browns feature wideouts Kevin Johnson (67 catches, 703 yards and four scores), Quincy Morgan (56-964-7), Dennis Northcutt (38-601-5) and Andre Davis (37-420-6). "I talked to Kevin Johnson and they're going to be hungry because they need a win just like we need a win," said Fuller, a former Brown. "If I was them watching the film, I would be licking my chops, too. At the same time, I know the reality. We're not going to sit there and bust plays."
Outside linebackers Peter Boulware and Terrell Suggs sacked Maddox twice, but he was largely unhurried. Baltimore did hold Pittsburgh to a three-yard rushing average. The Steelers still built a time of possession advantage of 32:40 to the Ravens' 27:20. Rookie quarterback Kyle Boller is trying to correct errors he committed in his NFL starting debut, including an interception and two fumbles he recovered. The Ravens were 5-for-16 on third downs as Boller missed some deep throws to Travis Taylor and Co. A shorthanded receiving corps may receive some assistance this week if veteran Frank Sanders is able to return. Running back Jamal Lewis will likely carry the football a lot more than the 15 carries for 69 yards he received against Pittsburgh. Both Lewis and Chester Taylor fumbled.
Baltimore is somewhat in flux at right offensive tackle. The Ravens started Ethan Brooks, but Orlando Brown played more snaps. Both committed penalties. Boller was sacked twice and eluded several pass rushers. He joked that he was scrambling like former Iowa State quarterback Seneca Wallace. When asked about Baltimore's composure and discipline following 10 penalties and an ongoing verbal feuds with the Steelers, Fuller dismissed the question. "It just looked that way because they won the game and they were running wide open," Fuller said. "Everything is escalated when you lose."
NOTE: The Baltimore City department of transportation announced new aggressive procedures involving illegally parked vehicles in restricted areas around M&T Bank Stadium. Violators will receive a $75 parking citation along with a $165 towing and impoundment fee for vehicles relocated to the city impound lot at 410 Fallsway.
Aaron Wilson writes for eThe Carroll County Times