OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) The Baltimore Ravens started their most challenging stretch of the season with a miserable thud.
Facing the Indianapolis Colts on the road Sunday, the Ravens reverted to the form they displayed last year in a 20-13 defeat.
Baltimore committed three turnovers, gave up four sacks, converted only one of 11 third-down plays and yielded 422 yards. That ended a three-game winning streak during which the Ravens outscored their opponents 87-37.
”We never got in a rhythm or flow,” coach John Harbaugh said Monday. ”In the end, we didn’t make enough plays on either side of the ball, especially offensively.”
The defeat Indy launched a stretch that includes four road games over a five-week span, concluding at Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Next up is a trip to Tampa Bay on Sunday, no small challenge for a team that has lost nine of its last 12 on the road.
”We need to bounce back and be at our best,” Harbaugh said.
The Ravens (3-2) will have to do so without defensive end Chris Canty and cornerback Asa Jackson. Canty will miss several weeks with an infection of his wrist and thumb, and Jackson is expected to be put on the injured reserve-designated to return list with a sprained toe.
Of equal concern is an offense that regressed against the Colts. Flacco was sacked 48 times last year, but this season he had been nailed only three times before going to Indianapolis. He was repeatedly hurried by the Colts, and one of the sacks came on a fourth-and-1 at the Indianapolis 3.
Harbaugh attributed one of the sacks to poor technique, another to ”bad footwork” and a third to a ”miscommunication.” He did not seem overly concerned.
”I don’t think it’s anything like the sky is falling by any stretch of the imagination,” he insisted. ”It was just the way it went.”
That wasn’t the only reminder of last year, when Baltimore went 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. Flacco threw 38 passes and the Ravens attempted only 15 runs – even though the trio of backs finished with an average of six yards per carry.
Harbaugh said the imbalance could be attributed to the fact that Indianapolis dominated the time of possession and ended up running 23 more plays than Baltimore.
”Well, you can’t run the ball too much if you don’t get many plays,” he said. ”That’s really what it boils down to.”
When a team turns the ball over and converts just one third down, things don’t usually turn out well.
”The bottom line is we let them play the way they want to play, the way they have played,” Harbaugh said. ”They kept the ball on the field offensively and they got off the field defensively. We just weren’t good enough to make it happen our way.”
The miscues began when wide receiver Steve Smith lost a fumble on the Ravens’ opening offensive play.
”Yeah, it started with the first play out of the gates,” Flacco lamented. ”We made too many mistakes.”
There were at least two positives: Rookie linebacker C.J. Mosely had 14 tackles and an interception, and cornerback Lardarius Webb returned from a nagging back injury to make six tackles and knock away two passes.
”Very encouraging,” Harbaugh said of Webb’s play. ”I didn’t know exactly how it was going to go. He went out there and played pretty darn well. So it’s only going to get better. He’s only going to improve physically. He knows how to play. He’s not there, he’s not 100 percent, but he’s on his way.”
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