Forget about the Steelers; Ravens turn focus toward Browns
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) The Baltimore Ravens had very little time to enjoy a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, one that lifted them into first place in the AFC North.
Coach John Harbaugh gathered the team for meetings and a practice session Monday, less than 24 hours after Baltimore ended a four-game losing streak by defeating its division rivals 21-14 .
Next up: a home game against winless Cleveland on Thursday night. Even though the Ravens waited more than a month to secure their fourth win, they knew there would be nothing to gain by lingering in the moment.
''Normally we come in after the game and watch the film, which is always fun after a victory,'' linebacker Zachary Orr said. ''We didn't do that today. We had to move on to Cleveland. Hopefully, next week we get to look back on two wins.''
Harbaugh and his coaching staff began preparing for Cleveland at the same time they were poring over film of the Steelers.
''A lot of work was done last week, a lot of work was done last night and this morning,'' Harbaugh said after the late afternoon practice session. ''We moved right to Cleveland. We didn't spend any time on Pittsburgh as far as reviewing it.''
It's been a crazy year for the Ravens, whose 3-0 start included a 25-20 win at Cleveland on Sept. 18 in which they rallied from a 20-point deficit. Now, in spite of a four-game skid – the team's longest since Harbaugh arrived in 2008 – Baltimore reached the midpoint of the season tied atop the AFC North with Pittsburgh, a half-game ahead of Cincinnati.
''Since 2012, we haven't really been in a position to win the division this late in the season,'' Harbaugh noted. ''Really, in the end, that's what matters.''
The Ravens received contributions from the offense, defense and special teams in taking down the Steelers. Joe Flacco and Mike Wallace collaborated on a 95-yard touchdown, the defense yielded only two first downs over the first 45 minutes, and a blocked punt produced the clinching score.
For the first time in a month, Baltimore put it all together.
''You look in a lot of different areas and see things that were hurting us in a lot of those (previous) games. We've cleaned a lot of that stuff up,'' Harbaugh said. ''That's the beauty of football, especially in the NFL. It's a long season and you have the opportunity to improve.''
A misstep against the Browns (0-9) would nullify that win over Pittsburgh in much the same fashion that the 0-4 stretch offset the 3-0 start.
''Veteran teams, good teams, they don't take steps back,'' linebacker Terrell Suggs said. ''They take the next step.''
Before the game against the Steelers, Suggs told his teammates, ''This game has the potential to define you.'' Afterward, he told them to forget about it.
''We're going to enjoy this, but it's going to be short-lived,'' Suggs said. ''We've definitely got to move on, and I'm going to do my part and make sure them guys understand that.''
Playing with three days rest has become commonplace for NFL teams, but that doesn't make it any easier.
''The game planning is certainly a challenge, but you just do it. Both teams are on the same boat,'' Harbaugh said. ''The physical part of it is different, too. The recovery curve is shorter, so you adjust what you do.''
The players get it. Big defensive tackle Brandon Williams would have loved spending Monday at home or in a whirlpool, but that wasn't an option.
''It's the thing we do,'' he said. ''One game down, next one's up. We've got to get our body right, come out Thursday and play our game.''
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