Billick: 'The first half sucked'

OWINGS MILLS -- The severity of the Baltimore Ravens' chaotic situation was accurately portrayed Monday by coach Brian Billick. "The first half sucked," said Billick, drawing laughs at his press conference one day after the last-place Ravens' 21-9 loss to the first-place Cincinnati Bengals. "That's a technical term."

"We did so many little things to kill ourselves. Whether it's turnovers, penalties, not capitalizing on situations, that is fairly self-evident."
Technically, the Ravens (2-6) are in a rough situation after losing three games in a row. They are virtually eliminated from playoff contention, barring an unlikely 8-0 run. They've lost 10 of their last 14 games dating back to last season.

They've generated only seven touchdowns, the lowest total in the NFL. That's three less than Baltimore had last year midway through the season before finishing last overall in total offense.

"It's my 14th year coaching in the league and, frankly, I've never been here before," Billick said. "I've never been part of a team -- and I'm responsible clearly for that -- this far removed from the potential of a playoff picture.

"We're going to hang on to that for as long as we can, but obviously we're talking long odds. Hopefully, I'll have some answers for them to grab onto whatever hook -- emotional, physical, mental, spiritual -- to push yourself through this tough time because it is a new experience."

Accustomed to being in the playoff hunt, the players and coaches are now reduced to playing for pride and job security.

After the game Sunday, some of the frustration boiled over at the familiar way the team loses: a lack of scoring along with turnovers, penalties and untimely defensive breakdowns.

"When you're stopping them, you've got to come back and score points," cornerback Samari Rolle said. "At some point, they are going to score, regardless of how you play. It just gets frustrating. Every week, we lose the same way."

Despite four trips inside the Bengals' 20-yard line, the Ravens were limited to three field goals and no touchdowns. Plus, tight end Todd Heap fumbled.

Billick acknowledged that he's vigilant about detecting dissension in the ranks since the Ravens had such high expectations entering the season.

"Every man, every player, every coach will go through some sort of crisis of conviction to some degree," Billick said. "It would be unnatural if every player in this organization didn't at some point question themselves, didn't question the person next to them, didn't question my abilities."

Billick ruled out playing more younger players, including rookie offensive linemen Adam Terry and Jason Brown, in light of the team's poor record. Rookie receiver Mark Clayton and fullback Justin Green have started.

"Even should we get to the point where we are technically, legally and mathematically out of the playoffs -- the continuity of the team, the form we'll be in next year, the players we'll be doing it with -- you have to be very careful with that type of thing," Billick said.

ROSTER OUTLOOK: The Ravens are expected to create a roster spot by releasing veteran quarterback Kordell Stewart, who rushed for 30 yards on three carries against Cincinnati. The impending transaction coincides with quarterback Kyle Boller starting again after recovering from a toe injury.

The Ravens could activate running back Musa Smith from the physically unable to perform list or promote quarterback Brian St. Pierre from the practice squad.

TRAINING ROOM: It's unlikely that safety Ed Reed will return this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has missed the last three games with a high-ankle sprain.

"Ed is progressing very well, I don't know if it's to the point where he can play this week," Billick said.

Linebacker Ray Lewis (thigh) is out until at least Dec. 4 against the Houston Texans, Billick reaffirmed last week.

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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