Ravens mulling over loss

OWINGS MILLS - Reflecting upon the Baltimore Ravens' season-opening loss to the Cleveland Browns all night left coach Brian Billick sleepless. <br><br> And his football team's pride and stride are aching after a summer spent making Super Bowl plans. <br><br> Between the 20-3 defeat to an AFC North rival, a hard to digest film session and more bad news on the injury front, it was a day of red ink Monday at the Ravens' training complex.

"I was kind of like hiding behind my hand," Mulitalo said of watching the replay. "We watched the film and saw things we shouldn't have done. To get that taste out of our mouths, we have to win this week." 

Heading into the home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0), the Ravens (0-1) are likely to get All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden back from a knee injury. 

However, their depth is now threadbare since tackle Ethan Brooks will miss at least two weeks with a sprained medial collateral ligament. Center Mike Flynn is still out with a broken collarbone. 

"We're very optimistic that Jonathan will be back in practice ready to go on Wednesday, but Ethan's situation now leaves us very vulnerable on the offensive line," said Billick, who only has inexperienced Damion Cook and Tony Pashos in reserve. 

Plus, nose guard Kelly Gregg underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Monday to repair a torn meniscus and will miss two weeks. The team had hoped he could hold up until the bye week. He'll be replaced by Maake Kemoeatu and reserve Aubrayo Franklin.

Receiver Travis Taylor re-aggravated a groin injury while trying to extend for a Kyle Boller pass, had a magnetic resonance imaging exam Monday and might be out for a while. 

"It might be a little more severe than even the original pull," Billick said. 

Ogden sprained his medial collateral ligament in the preseason finale against the Giants in his left knee and hasn't practiced since. 

"I feel much better and I'm probably going to be out there," Ogden said. "It was just too soon last week." 
Beyond the injuries, the Ravens have plenty of issues to correct.

The offense didn't cross the Browns' 24-yard line, the defense didn't contain quarterback Jeff Garcia and the special-teams looked discombobulated. 

"Hugely disappointing, and it's across the board," Billick said. "It's very disappointing that this team, which had such high expectations to play well in the opener, didn't. 

"It was a cascading set, a perfect storm, in that, normally, one side of the ball or the other can balance and change the complexion of the game and we just didn't." 

The Ravens converted only 4-of-15 third downs and rank 23rd in total offense. 

Jamal Lewis was held to 57 yards on 20 attempts after gaining 500 yards last season against Cleveland. 

"The balance, other than once the game took the turn that it did, was very balanced," Billick said. "Clearly, this was not like the opener last year where we simply didn't run the ball well enough or didn't attempt to run the ball enough." 

Boller completed 22 of 38 passes for 191 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked three times, fumbled to set up a Garcia touchdown run and had a 49.3 rating. 

Boller's accuracy issues date back to his college days at Cal, but Billick reiterated that the loss wasn't the young quarterback's fault. 

"We had a lot of run checks that he did a great job with," Billick said. "He understood protections and where he was vulnerable. The interceptions, there isn't much you can do with those. On the whole, I liked what I saw on his first outing." 

Boller overthrew Taylor by five yards on a key 3rd-and-1 in the first half after a series where Lewis appeared to be getting warmed up and wearing down the Browns. 

"It was outstanding play-action, outstanding throw, right where he practiced it," Billick said. "The read and the throw by Kyle were excellent." 

Safeties Ed Reed and Will Demps were both beaten deep. Reed jumped a Garcia pump fake, which allowed Quincy Morgan to score the game-winning 46-yard touchdown. Reed declined a request to elaborate on the play Monday. 

"There were some errors on the back end," Billick said. "There were some communication errors. There were a couple of instances where they probably tried to do too much." 

The Ravens don't have much time to dwell on what happened as a retooled Steelers team led by bruising running backs Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis are coming to town. 

"We will come back and regroup," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "It's a long football season." 

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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