Ravens lose game, ridiculed by Steelers

Insults, flying cleats to the face, a shredded secondary and a stiff arm to rival any Heisman pose defined a bizarre football scene. The gory details of the Baltimore Ravens' ugly 31-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday were accompanied by a colorful summation from Brian Billick. No, Billick didn't need his thesaurus to find vocabulary words to characterize the Steelers' dominance.

Why bother when a coach is able to say with a straight face that his team had the excrement kicked out of it during a woeful first half? It was a sorry display that included Plaxico Burress streaking by Chris McAlister for a score and shoving linebacker Edgerton Hartwell down with one hand for another, two Robert Tate fumbles and general befuddlement from Hartwell and Cornell Brown on how to corral Amos Zereoue.

 "It's just one-on-one, you kicked his ass, you kicked his ass, you kicked his ass," Billick said after the Steelers' fifth win in a row here. "On offense, those 11 guys kicked the crap out of us. On defense, those 11 guys kicked the crap out of us. On special teams, they also kicked the crap out of us."

With the exception of James Trapp's acrobatic Jackie Chan leap onto Burress' facemask in a fight that led to both players' ejections, the Ravens came up short in a talent gap accentuated by the absences of injured quarterback Chris Redman and All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis.

 Despite a locker-room apology from Trapp, Burress was incensed and the Steelers dished out verbal lashes before departing with ownership of the top spot in the AFC North.

First, the 6-foot-5, 226-pound Burress torched McAlister on the field and fought Trapp. Then, Burress attacked the entire defensive backfield.

Of the painful encounter with Trapp, Burress said: "That dude has no respect for me so why should I have respect for him. He's wrong and he knew he was wrong."

In reference to Gary Baxter's suggestion that he eat his Wheaties, Burress replied: "Who is Gary Baxter? He wasn't even on the scouting report. I don't know who Gary Baxter is. What number does he wear? He's terrible."

McAlister has been responsible for the majority of Burress' 18 receptions for 303 yards and four touchdowns in the last three meetings.

"I love playing against Chris McAlister," Burress said. "He's cocky. He's arrogant. He needs to worry about coverage."

Regardless of Burress' negative opinion, the Ravens' resurgence hasn't ended quite yet. Baltimore (3-4) has slipped to third behind Cleveland, but Lewis will eventually return and strengthen a suspect defense ranked 24th overall, 28th against the pass.

"We're still contenders," offensive guard Bennie Anderson said. "We can't overreact."

 Yet, against converted insurance salesman Tommy Maddox, the defensive backfield became a sieve, allowing 18 of 24 accuracy. Burress did whatever he wanted before his ejection.

 "Burress is just another receiver that we face," Baxter said. "He's not an elite receiver to me, period."

Sure, Gary. Whatever you say. About all the Ravens could cling to was a 15-3 edge in the second half.

Delusional behavior won't help matters. This franchise hasn't finished morphing after the salary-cap carnage. A realistic look in the mirror can't hurt.

"Ain't nobody embarrassed," Baxter said. "We fought and we are going to continue to fight."

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