"The time frame we were hoping for just isn't happening right now," Ravens
coach Brian Billick said. "It's unlikely he'll be able to step into the fray
Boller hyperextended the toe in the season opener against the Indianapolis Colts and has missed six games. Under an initial prognosis, the team had hoped that Boller could be back by this week.
Meanwhile, the secondary will have to defend the Bengals' explosive passing game without Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed. He's likely to miss his third consecutive game with a high-ankle sprain.
"Ed Reed probably has a bit further to go," Billick said.
BISCIOTTI PEP TALK: Several players credited an inspired effort to a speech that owner Steve Bisciotti gave to the entire organization early last week.
"It was great," running back Jamal Lewis said. "I think a lot of guys took something from that. You respect that out of an owner. That's not done everyday in the NFL."
Added quarterback Anthony Wright: "He kind of put us in a better frame of mind and allowed us to play football the way we can."
DIDN'T GET IN POSITION: Before Wright threw incomplete on fourth down in an aborted comeback attempt, the Ravens were approaching the vicinity of kicker Matt Stover's range.
With the ball at midfield, Stover advised the coaching staff that he felt comfortable if the offense could move the ball to the Steelers' 36. However, it never happened for Stover, who converted field goals from 40, 49 and 47 yards on the closed end of Heinz Field.
"I told them that going that direction in the fourth quarter, the way the ball was flying and the way I hit that 49-yarder, the line of scrimmage needed to be the 36-yard-line for a 54-yard field goal," Stover said.
SOLID SHOWING: Linebacker Tommy Polley filled in for Ray Lewis and made a respectable showing, registering a team-high nine tackles.
Polley used his speed to run past blockers and helped limit the Steelers' prolific running game to 102 yards. Weakside linebacker Bart Scott had five tackles in his first start.
Overall, the defense faltered at the end of the game by allowing an eight-play, 60-yard drive capped by Jeff Reed's 37-yard game-winning field goal.
"We kind of let them down at the end," Polley staid. "They got a couple yards at the end and we came up a little short."
RUNNING HARD: Although Lewis was limited to 61 yards on 17 carries, he made a concerted effort to resume his hard-nosed approach.
The productivity wasn't there, but the intensity appeared higher after a week where he was criticized for admitting concern about getting injured in the final year of his contract.
"Things are done in order to bring a person down sometimes," Lewis said. "I think the whole thing was blown out of proportion. I went out and ran as hard as I could like I do every week and made things happen."
After reviewing Lewis on film, Billick gave his approval.
"You saw a more physical style," Billick said. "You saw those good, tough runs. That's Jamal's game, and we expect to build on that. I liked what I saw in terms of the temperament via what we talked about all week with Jamal."
SCHEDULE CHANGE: In a reaction to the Ravens' unexpectedly subpar season, Baltimore's Nov. 20 game against Pittsburgh has been moved up to 1 p.m. from 4:15 p.m. NFL and CBS officials replaced that game with Indianapolis vs. Cincinnati.
QUICK HITS: Billick expressed optimism that defensive end Tony Weaver (toe), receiver Mark Clayton (ankle) and fullback Ovie Mughelli (ankle) could return Sunday. … Billick played down a brief argument between wide receiver Derrick Mason and Wright when the quarterback didn't spot Mason wide open in the end zone. "Derrick's very passionate," Billick said. "That route he had broken off, quite frankly, Anthony wasn't ready for him to break off in that way. That comes down to familiarity." … Billick attributed the defense surrendering two touchdown catches to tight end Heath Miller to miscommunication and mental errors. Both times, safety Will Demps didn't seem to react quickly enough to Ben Roethlisberger's favorite red-zone play. … On the Steelers' game-winning drive, cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle didn't appear to be playing closely enough to the receivers. "Physically, we didn't get the jam that we needed," Billick said.
In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.
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