Ravens don't feel sorry for hapless Dolphins

OWINGS MILLS -- Misery may indeed love company, but not even the reeling Baltimore Ravens can compete with the Miami Dolphins' season of infamy. The winless Dolphins (0-13) are headed to uncharted NFL territory, careening toward an unprecedented 0-16 black hole that has never been accomplished, if one can actually describe this level of gross ineptitude, as an accomplishment.

As the Ravens (4-9) prepare for Sunday's game at Dolphin Stadium, they can at least take comfort that they aren't on a collision course with a historical mark for failure. The Ravens' franchise-record seven-game losing streak pales in comparison to the Dolphins' woes.

"If I was on the other sideline, I would say, 'I don't want to be the team that loses to the team that hasn't won a game yet,'" Dolphins Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Taylor said Wednesday in a conference call with Baltimore reporters. "I think that in turn puts the pressure on the opponent, not on us. So, I wouldn't want to be in that situation."

The worst season in a storied franchise's history has included awful quarterback play with Miami reduced to starting former Baltimore castoff Cleo Lemon this week.

Lemon, who has thrown just three touchdowns with six interceptions, replaces rookie John Beck, who has no touchdowns, three interceptions and six fumbles.

The Dolphins began the season with veteran Trent Green under center, but he was knocked out for the season with a concussion.

Ironically, the Dolphins plan to honor the 35th anniversary of the 1972 undefeated Miami squad at halftime on Sunday with legends like Don Shula, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Paul Warfield and Nick Buoniconti scheduled to attend. Their presence marks a stark contrast to this sad-sack outfit that hasn't managed to win one football game under first-year coach Cam Cameron.

"They are a big part obviously of this organization and the history of this organization," Cameron said in a conference call. "Our focus is on Baltimore, plain and simple, and that's the key. Let's focus on the task at hand.

"This is a tough, tough business and you've got to stay mentally tough and you've got to focus on Baltimore, who their record is not indicative of how hard they play or a lot of good things they've done."

The Dolphins haven't done many good things. Over the past two games, the Dolphins have committed 10 turnovers with five apiece in losses to the Buffalo Bills (38-17) and the New York Jets (40-13).

Miami has been outscored 355 to 213 this season, including a 93-29 differential in the first quarter.

Thirteen players are on injured reserve, including Green, running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams and middle linebacker Zach Thomas. The Dolphins rank 30th in total offense (281.8 yards per game) and have the worst-ranked run defense in the NFL, allowing 155.4 yards per contest, 2,020 total rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns.

Taylor acknowledged that there are few concerns at this point, largely because it's not as if the Dolphins have anything to play for with the exception of pride.

"We've got no pressure," he said. "What do we have pressure for? We have nothing to lose, so there's no reason to be uptight or feel pressure or be anxious or worried.

"The only thing that you have to guard against when you're in a situation like this is the lack of confidence and guys maybe not believing in the system or not believing in their abilities or in one another because of the lack of success you have to date. But there's absolutely no reason to have any pressure. The pressure should be on everybody else."

Nonetheless, Cameron is on the hot seat as his job security is extremely precarious.

When asked if he felt like the team had already surrendered and was no longer trying, Cameron replied: "Absolutely not. This group isn't going to give up. This group's going to fight."

It's not as if the Ravens feel sorry for the Dolphins.

Not with their own unique set of problems with starters missing a combined 54 games, ranking last in the NFL in turnover margin, enduring poor quarterback play and a traditionally stingy defense proving extremely vulnerable against the deep pass.

"It's tough, when I pictured the Ravens, I pictured the 13-3 team," said running back Willis McGahee, who ranks fifth in the NFL with 1,093 rushing yards after being acquired in an offseason trade from the Buffalo Bills. "I thought we were going to come back and be even better, but it didn't go as planned, as everybody thought it would.

"You have to stick together, have faith in your teammates. You can't abandon them right now. Even though it's going south, you have to be right there."

Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason refuted Taylor's point about pressure, calling it a shared burden for two teams that are both desperate for a victory. He admired the gambit of transferring who's more under the gun to stop their respective losing slides.

"The pressure is on both teams, you don't want to be a team that goes 0-16 and, on the flip side of that, we don't want to be the team that loses to a team that hasn't won up until this point," Mason said. "I think he played it smart. He threw the pressure card on our side of the table, but, in actuality, I think it's more of a mutual thing.

"They don't want to end the season without a win and we don't want to be the first team to lose to them. So, we're going to go in prepared mentally and physically to try to win a football game as well as them also."

Added middle linebacker Ray Lewis: "Jason Taylor has got his own issues. We've got our own issues. I don't know what Jason Taylor is talking about."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.


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