Ravens looking to rebound

OWINGS MILLS -- Universally, the Baltimore Ravens aren't rushing to hit the proverbial panic button after being throttled by the reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Despite allowing the Giants to run roughshod over their vaunted defense in a 30-10 rout Sunday, the Ravens are finding comfort in the reality that they remain in a strong position to contend for the playoffs

Especially if they rebound the way they did from a 31-3 disaster against the Indianapolis Colts by going on a four-game winning streak that was snapped at Giants Stadium.

"Is it the end of the world?" linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "Absolutely not. You all can have fun with it. Go back and write your stories about how bad we are: 'The Ravens are 6-4. They're terrible.'

"We expect that, but we're right back to where we started the year at. Everybody's against us. All we got is ourselves. Enjoy it, because you aren't going to see this too many more times."

The Ravens (6-4) are one game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) in the AFC North standings following the Steelers edging the San Diego Chargers. If the season ended today, they would make the playoffs with a wild-card berth.

Baltimore survived a brutal stretch of five road games in six weeks to win three road contests and four of six overall. Now, they'll play four of their final six regular-season games at home beginning this weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles (5-4-1).

Smarting from allowing 207 rushing yards to the Giants for the third-most rushing yards surrendered in franchise history and the most since an Oct. 5, 1997 game against the Steelers, the Ravens are confident in their ability to regroup.

"The lesson for us is not so much who we played or what happened in the last game," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "The point is, through success you don't rest. You build. Through failure, you don't wallow in it. You build. That's what a football team does."

One day after cornerback Samari Rolle said the Ravens were "outphysicaled" by Giants running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw and defensive end Trevor Pryce said he couldn't recall a "thumping" to rival what New York did to a top-ranked run defense that has dropped to third overall, Harbaugh insisted again that the Ravens weren't beaten physically at the point of attack.

"I don't think we were knocked off the ball," said Harbaugh, instead referencing Bradshaw's 77-yard run where he dodged middle linebacker Ray Lewis, a 36-yard Jacobs cutback and a 22-yard Derrick Ward dash. "That's my definition of being outphysicaled. There were three running plays that were poorly defended. It might have been tackling, it might have been getting off blocks. Give credit where credit is due.

"Their backs are impressive, maybe even more impressive when you see them making guys miss, running physical, great patience. Sometimes, you've got things defended and they wait, wait, wait, find a crease and, bam, pop outside like Brandon did early. But was it a result of getting knocked off the ball? No way."

The Ravens' immediate task is moving on from a game Suggs called an embarrassment that included Matt Stover having a kick blocked and two interceptions from rookie quarterback Joe Flacco. Separating themselves from a pack of 6-4 AFC teams that includes the Miami Dolphins, whom they've already beaten, the Colts and New England Patriots, is what the Ravens need to do to assure themselves of a postseason reservation.

"I don't even call it a challenge," Lewis said. "I call it, 'OK, throw this one away and let's keep on playing football.' What do you do? Do you drop your head? Or do you come back to work Monday?

"We're coming home now with a 6-4 record. That's nothing to hang our heads about. If you drop your head, you don't what a champion is. I'm a what's next guy. I know where we are and I know what's next, and I hope we have the chance to see the Giants again."

Baltimore is 3-1 at M&T Bank Stadium this year, and 13-4 at home in November dating back to 2000.

This stretch won't be a cinch, though. Four of the six remaining opponents have winning records.

"It's not like we haven't lost a game this year," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "We know how to regroup when we lose. We'll continue to fight the way we fought when we were on the winning streak."

It will be hard for the Ravens to forget all the flailing arm tackles, being stiff-armed and bulldozed by Jacobs and chasing Bradshaw. That's what they have to do, though, and quickly.

"The goal is to take that emotional stuff and put it behind you," Harbaugh said. "You take the lessons, whatever they are. They're different every week, like the run game. You get better at those things and work on your next opponent."

The schedule reunites Harbaugh with his former team where he worked as a special teams and secondary coach from 1998 until last year under coach Andy Reid.

Harbaugh acknowledged that the date of the Eagles game has been etched in his mind ever since the schedule was released.

"Competitively, you're going against your brothers," Harbaugh said. "It means something and it's exciting, but it's going to be our players against their players and whoever plays best is going to win.

"It wouldn't be much of a showdown between me and coach Reid out there. I think I'd be able to cover him, and he'd be able to block me."

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


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