Ravens look to build on 2-game streak, finish season strong
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh has been defiant in the face of adversity.
Even when his team fell to 1-6, he believed the Ravens were still capable of making an unprecedented run to the playoffs. Now, Baltimore has won back-to-back games for the first time this season and the coach is looking for more.
Though they are still just 4-7, several young players thrust into the lineup because of injuries are playing vital roles. A win over the Miami Dolphins this week could set the tone for a strong finish and even impact the NFL's playoff picture.
''We're relevant in December,'' Harbaugh said. ''That's where we needed to be.''
The Ravens will finish the season without several starters because of injuries, including quarterback Joe Flacco (knee), wide receiver Steve Smith (Achilles), running back Justin Forsett (broken arm) and linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles).
Nonetheless, the Ravens are looking to make some noise down the stretch. Seven of Baltimore's losses have been decided by a total of 32 points, which has been a source of both confidence and frustration.
However, a stunning 33-27 victory over Cleveland on Monday night has given the team new hope.
Second-year defensive end Brent Urban, who was playing his first career game, blocked a potential game-winning field goal in the closing seconds. Will Hill scoped up the loose ball and ran 64 yards for the game-winning score.
''We're battle tested,'' Hill said. ''We've all been fighting all year long, no matter the ups and downs, the injuries, people getting cut. It doesn't matter. We believe in each other. Faith and guts. That's all we have now. We'll continue to fight and be the best Raven team we can be.''
Quarterback Matt Schaub, who was taking his first snaps of the season, went 20-of-34 with 232 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.
Schaub said the Ravens have a good group of guys, a ''great locker room and I'm excited to be back in the huddle.''
Rookie Javorius ''Buck'' Allen has taken over for Forsett and has shown he could be the featured back. He finished with 55 yards on 12 carries in his first career start in Cleveland. Allen also scored his first career touchdown with a 13-yard reception in the second quarter.
Despite a new sense of optimism, the Ravens are not looking too far ahead. They know a loss to Miami might be a setback too difficult to overcome. Harbaugh remains confident his players will respond to the challenge this week.
''They're very aggressive, very salty,'' Harbaugh said about the Dolphins. ''Really good front seven, good cover corners. Dangerous pass rush, of course, with Olivier (Vernon). He's one of the the premier pass rushers in football.''
Notes: The Ravens have blocked a punt or kick in five straight games, becoming the first team since the 1983 Atlanta Falcons to accomplish that feat.. . TE Maxx Williams suffered a potential concussion against the Browns and will remain under the NFL-mandated protocol for that injury this week. . Harbaugh picked up his 86th career victory against Cleveland, surpassing Brian Billick for the most in Ravens' history. Over eight seasons, Harbaugh is 86-52 and has made the playoffs six times.
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- Baltimore Ravens
- Brent Urban
- Joe Flacco
- Justin Forsett
- Matt Schaub
- Maxx Williams
- Miami Dolphins
- Olivier Vernon
- Terrell Suggs