Ravens control their own destiny

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Moments after the Baltimore Ravens dispatched the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at the Louisiana Superdome, middle linebacker Ray Lewis was savoring the impact of the victory on the team's AFC North status. Following the Ravens' 35-22 win and the Cincinnati Bengals' loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore claimed sole possession of first place.

The Ravens hold a one-game advantage over the Bengals, who head to town Sunday for a critical division encounter at M&T Bank Stadium.
"This is when the snowball starts rolling," Lewis said. "It's up to us to catch up to it. We're trying to go on a four, five, six, seven, 10 game winning streak.
"We're ahead of our schedule. Let's stay ahead of our division. We control our own destiny. If anybody sneaks up on us, that's our fault."
After snapping a two-game losing streak, Ravens coach Brian Billick wasn't inclined to contemplate formulas for how the team can claim the AFC North title and earning an automatic playoff berth, or look back in the standings and see the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5) tied for last with the Cleveland Browns.
"It's too early to think of it in those terms, no way are we going to fall into that trap," Billick said. "Cincinnati is the next one up, but we're not going to think beyond that."
SNAFU: Midway through the third quarter, both the Ravens and Saints lost communications on their phone systems because of an apparent issue in the coaches' booth.
"It's funny, because in this high-tech world, the guy in the booth had kicked the socket out," Billick said. "We're scrambling on both sidelines trying to figure out what's going on and he's up there with a hurricane and a hot dog wondering, ‘What's everybody so upset about?' That made it a little interesting on both sides."
FANGIO FACTOR: This was the first time that former NFL defensive coordinator Vic Fangio emerged from a behind-the-scenes, film-study role to assist Billick in a gameday role from the coaches' booth. With the cameras on Fangio, a television caption listed him as a consultant. "He's that forest for the trees guy," Billick said. "He's been a huge asset for us, very helpful. He's got a great eye for it."
Billick took a good-natured dig at Fangio's meticulous, plan-for-everything nature.
"He sits on the plane writing down different scenarios of odd things," Billick said. "Sometimes, it's like, ‘Vic, get a life, man. Geez.' There's more to life than figuring out, ‘Now, if it's 1st-and-5 and they do this, we can call timeout.'
"But he's very good at that. He's got a nice sense for it and I'm learning a lot from him."
QUICK HITS: The Ravens sat down receiver Mark Clayton after a familiar injury, a tight hamstring, began bothering him. They replaced him with a combined effort by Clarence Moore and rookie Demetrius Williams. Clayton was the only notable injury reported and it isn't believed to be serious. … Although the Ravens knocked Saints rookie running back Reggie Bush out of the game with an ankle injury, forced him to fumble and limited him to 16 rushing yards on five carries, Billick said he affected the defense as a high-profile decoy. "He's a talent, he stretched some of our packages to have to account for him," Billick said. "They use him in some very creative and intelligent ways. He created some matchups for them."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.

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