Ravens put New England debacle behind them

OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens' epic meltdown two years ago against the New England Patriots wasn't one of the finer moments in franchise history.   That was the Dec. 3, 2007 game where the Ravens' frustrations boiled over as former Baltimore linebacker Bart Scott lost his temper and hurled an official's flag into the stands.

And cornerback Samari Rolle got into a fierce argument with an official, later claiming that he was called "boy" by that official and threatened legal action.

The Ravens (3-0), who play the Patriots (2-1) on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, wound up accumulating fines and criticism that marred a valiant effort that came up short as quarterback Tom Brady engineered a 27-24 comeback victory.

"I remember being heartbroken," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "I remember a certain colleague of mine throwing a flag in the stands. I remember a certain colleague going after a referee. It was crazy.

"You look at it now and you can laugh about it, but at the time we were just like, ‘Wow, we can't believe all that just happened.' I just remember all of the disappointment and the heartache."

It was an ugly night, and wide receiver Derrick Mason had no interest in discussing the encounter.

Mason paused for a few seconds when asked about that game before saying, "I don't even remember that game, seriously. Next question. I'm not trying to be rude, but next question. I can't even remember that game."

The game included two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on one play and an ill-timed timeout on fourth down that kept the Patriots' game-winning drive alive and

Since that game, which was followed by former coach Brian Billick wound up acknowledging that the Ravens' behavior wasn't proper, Baltimore has been far less prone to penalties and arguing with officials.

"I didn't think we were that immature," Suggs said. "You've got different people in the locker room, different personnel. There are different things that I expect now. I didn't think we were that immature, but we are a better team than we were in 2007."

INJURY UPDATE: Middle linebacker Ray Lewis was limited with a concussion during Wednesday's practice, but expressed confidence that he'll be fine for Sunday's game.

"Everything's cool," Lewis said.

Lewis left the game for one play against the Cleveland Browns with a stinger, but went back into the game and didn't seem to have any problems.

"The bottom line is if it's going to exist, it's going to exist.," Lewis said. "My symptoms, what I was having, I was going to have for the rest of the day anyway. So, I just dealt with them. "I wasn't comfortable enough with saying I'll sit on the sideline for five or six plays. So, why not go back out there and fight with my team?" Meanwhile, starting inside linebacker Tavares Gooden was limited in practice with a concussion of his own. He insisted that he'll play Sunday. "I'm good, I'm cool," Gooden said. "We're just taking precautions and making sure the brain is all right. I felt a little jumpy, a little loopy. "It was a mild one, real low level. It wasn't re ally anything, just precautionary because I felt a little light-headed."

Linebacker Jarret Johnson (left shoulder) was limited as well as defensive tackle Justin Bannan (knee), tight end Todd Heap (back) and wide receiver Kelley Washington.

Defensive end Trevor Pryce and quarterback Troy Smith both didn't practice due to an illness. Patriots nose guard Vince Wilfork (ankle), offensive tackle Nick Kaczur (ankle) and linebacker Jerod Mayo (knee) didn't practice. Wide receivers Randy Moss (back) and Wes Welker (knee) and cornerback Shawn Springs (knee) were limited.

Quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder) participated fully.

HONORED: Special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo has been named to three Pro Bowls for his work in the kicking game.

Now, he's got a defensive honor for the trophy case.

Ayanbadejo was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording an interception, a sack and four tackles against the Cleveland Browns.

"It's a testament to my teammates and to my coaches," Ayanbadejo said. "They do all the hard work. I just go in there and do what I'm told to do and I play football. Someone else has to think of the plays, alignments, assignments and the techniques. I'm just proud to be a Raven.

"I'm in there for speed. I'm built for speed, so I'm able to get out there and utilize it. That's what I really love to do. Just explode and burst and be able to hit something."

CLEARING THE AIR: Second-round outside linebacker-defensive end Paul Kruger reiterated that he never refused to play on special teams.

After being deactivated for the first three games of his rookie season, Kruger vehemently denied speculation that he was unwilling to play on special teams.

"It's just not true," Kruger said. "I'm definitely excited and ready to do anything on special teams or play any other position on the field that they want me to. There's nothing I wouldn't do to help this team win. I'm just waiting for my chance."

Kruger has been practicing on special teams and is a backup on every kicking team, but doesn't have a background on special teams after not being used to cover kickoffs and punts at the University of Utah.

He also volunteered to play tight end last week, but the Ravens weren't interested in having him change positions.

"I've never played [special teams], so coming in and understanding all the concepts and getting the techniques and everything, it's a totally new world to me," Kruger said. "But I feel confident now with everything, so it's just a matter of somehow getting out there."

Kruger was under consideration to be active last week, but the Ravens went with Dwan Edwards as the backup to outside linebacker Jarret Johnson. Plus, Antwan Barnes has excelled on special teams and contributed as a reserve linebacker.

"I'm definitely doing my best to get better and get on the field, but it's hard to say exactly when you're going to be active because the depth charts don't change that much from week to week unless somebody gets hurt," Kruger said. "We'll see what happens. I'm going to keep doing my best in practice."

Kruger ranks behind Suggs on the depth chart at outside linebacker and Suggs has never missed a game due to injury.

"Our whole defensive line is full of guys that have been around the league for a long time and are damn good players," Kruger said. "They want us to excel first on special teams, so that's where I've been focusing my efforts and trying to get better."

UNION LEADER VISITS RAVENS: NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith expressed optimism that a new collective bargaining agreement could be worked out before a potential uncapped year in 2010.

"My expectation is to get a deal done before an uncapped year," Smith told a small group of reporters today at the Ravens' training complex. "I think that's good for our game."

Smith reiterated that he's determined to hammer out a new deal with the NFL owners as soon as possible and seemed upbeat about a recent meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

"I believe we have an obligation to do everything we can to keep it going and that's why I've been so insistent on having substantive CBA meetings with proposals from the day that I got elected," Smith said.

When asked about the potential of the NFL owners instituting a lockout in 2011, Smith replied: "There's only one group of people who can lock the doors to the stadium and the last time I checked I don't have those keys."

Smith said that he would still like to see the owners open up the books and reveal their respective financial situations. Currently, only the Green Bay Packers are required to do as a publicly held company.

"It seems to me that if there's something to change with this current CBA I think the best way to demonstrate that is to provide the financial justification for it," Smith said. "I know it's an $8 billion business last year. I know that teams, according to Forbes, generated a significant amount of operative revenue even in hard economic times. I know there are teams that are facing blackout situations at a time when teams are still turning a profit.

"Look, the players signed a deal in 2006 and that deal was envisioned to go until 2012. We didn't walk away from that deal. We didn't walk away from that contract. When someone comes to me and says the current economic situation and the current framework of the CBA deal doesn't work, I don't think it's an outlandish question to say, 'Why?' and to expect someone to demonstrate that."

Smith was present as the Ravens conducted elections for a new player union representative and alternates with tight end Todd Heap tabbed as the primary rep and kick returner Chris Carr named as the alternate.

Former Ravens kicker Matt Stover was the longtime union rep.

QUICK HITS: Suggs said that he has matured personally over the years even though he has maintained a playful personality. "I'm still the biggest kid in here, but when I go out on the field it's more attention to business, where before I was just out there running around like a chicken with a his head cut off," he said. "Now, it's more important that we win. At first, if I got three sacks and we lost, I'd be like, "We lost, but I got three sacks.' Now, I just want to win more than anything." … One day after cutting former Ravens linebacker Prescott Burgess after acquiring him last week for a conditional seventh-round draft pick, the Patriots signed him to the practice squad. … Patriots coach Bill Belichick gave a strong recommendation of Ravens coach John Harbaugh to team owner Steve Bisciotti during the team's coaching search. Both Harbaugh and Belichick share a special-teams background. "John's smart," Belichick said during a conference call with Baltimore reporters. "He works hard, very hard. Very well-prepared. I think he has a great intuition and instincts for the game, how to handle situations, how to handle his team. I think everybody I've ever talked to that's worked with him or played for him has had a lot of good things to say about him, and that's been my experience, too. Steve asked me about it, I think that decision was probably already made, but I do think a lot of John." … Suggs said he has no plans to talk to Scott and compare notes about how the New York Jets upset the Patriots earlier this season. "No, I'm not going to talk to Bart this week because they already have the victory and we need to get ours," Suggs said. "So, we're going to really focus on us versus the Patriots."

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