Error-prone Ravens get second shot at playoffs
The Baltimore Ravens have a simple plan for the rest of the
season: fix the mistakes they made in a frustrating loss to
Pittsburgh, beat Oakland and then go deep into the playoffs.
Despite being penalized 11 times for 113 yards, committing three
turnovers and allowing four sacks in a 23-20 defeat against the
Steelers on Sunday, the Ravens (8-7) need only to win at Oakland on
Sunday to reach the postseason for a second straight season.
After that, coach John Harbaugh said Monday, “anything’s
“I’m excited about our chances. We take care of business at
Oakland, get ourselves in the playoffs, we can win the world
championship. That’s our goal,” he said. “We’re capable of doing
it. But it’s up to us to get it done.”
The first priority is to cut down on penalties. The Ravens, who
rank first in the NFL with 1,057 penalty yards, had two touchdowns
called back against Pittsburgh because of infractions. In addition,
an offside call on Terrell Suggs extended a Pittsburgh scoring
drive, and tackles Haloti Ngata and Oniel Cousins were flagged for
personal fouls after the whistle.
“I happen to think that we have the makings of a very good
football team. We do a lot of things really well. That’s the thing
you get excited about, because that’s where we’re going to go,”
“The other things? The things that stick in our gut and our
craw? We acknowledge (them),” he said. “Let’s get those things
worked out. Let’s make better decisions in critical situations.
Let’s get those penalties down where they belong, which is at three
or four a game at the most.”
Had the Ravens defeated Pittsburgh, they’d already be in the
playoffs. But at least Baltimore has a second chance to get it
“Forget about this one. It’s over and done with,” wide
receiver Derrick Mason said after Sunday’s loss. “We just have to
prepare for the next one. That’s all that matters. We win, we’re
in. That’s our philosophy. I’ve forgotten about this one; it’s done
and over with.”
Mason would like nothing better than to clear his memory of
Sunday’s game. Although he caught seven passes for 77 yards, he
dropped a sure touchdown throw that would have put Baltimore in
front in the fourth quarter.
Harbaugh can tolerate that kind of mistake. The penalties,
however, were unacceptable.
“It was irritating. All of us felt that,” he said. “We played
too well in so many ways for the outcome to be what it was. Why was
the outcome what it was? Well, it was our doing. It was penalties
and missed opportunities. But those are things we can fix.”
The Ravens have one week to do it. In his two seasons as
Baltimore’s coach, Harbaugh has never lost to a team with a
sub-.500 record. He has no intention of ruining that perfect mark
against the Raiders (5-10), whose victims include Pittsburgh,
Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Denver.
“I would be disappointed, I would be surprised if our team
wasn’t ready to play,” Harbaugh said. “It’s just going to be a
matter of how well we address the things we’ve got to get better at
going into next week. Our guys know they’re going to play a team
that’s very dangerous, a football team that has proven they can
beat anybody in this league, and we’re going to their place.
“This is their last game of the season, and they’re going to
put their best effort out there. But we’ve got more at stake. We’ve
got an opportunity to make the playoffs. We’ve got an opportunity
to get in the tournament. To me, that’s motivation enough. I’m sure
our guys will be ready.”