Ravens need a break: enter bye week mired in 3-game skid
BALTIMORE (AP) — By the time the Baltimore Ravens play another game, they’ll have gone five weeks without a victory.
After enduring nine straight weeks of football to get this far, the weary, aching Ravens will gladly take a week off before attempting to end a three-game losing streak.
Baltimore (4-5) will use the time off to rest, regroup and assess what went wrong during an inexplicable skid following a 4-2 start.
“We’ll look at everything, as we always do during the bye week,” coach John Harbaugh said after Sunday’s 23-16 loss to Pittsburgh. “I think the biggest thing we need to do is get healthy and get fresh.”
Getting back starting tackles Ronnie Stanley (ankle) and James Hurst (back) will certainly help an offense that started the season going 12 for 12 in converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns over the first three games. Lately, though, those chances inside the 20 have resulted in field goals.
Twice in the first half, the Ravens drove deep into Pittsburgh territory and had to settle for field goals.
“It’s frustrating because in these types of games, you don’t get that many plays and that many opportunities, and obviously, scoring touchdowns is the name of the game,” quarterback Joe Flacco said.
In the first half, Pittsburgh scored two touchdowns and the Ravens got two field goals. That put Baltimore in a hole from which it could not recover.
“It helps if you can run it in,” Harbaugh said.
The Ravens have yet to get their running game on track. On Sunday, they finished with 61 yards rushing — including two attempts for 4 yards after halftime.
“I think we can turn it around,” wide receiver John Brown said. Brown was Flacco’s go-to guy early in the season, but his effectiveness has been negated by frequent double teams.
“Things happen. We have to find a way to get it right,” Brown said.
But a struggling offense is only one of Baltimore’s issues.
The NFL’s most dominant defense has suddenly become vulnerable to the pass, particularly the underneath routes that elongate drives and turn short throws into big gainers.
“They kept us on the field for a lot of long drives, just grinding us down,” defensive end Brent Urban said. “You can’t win like that.”
Since blanking the Titans 21-0 in Week 6, the Ravens have yielded 82 points in three defeats. Sixty-seven of those points came in a stretch of six periods through halftime of Sunday’s loss.
“That’s not up to our defensive standard,” defensive back Anthony Levine said. “We know what our standard is, and that isn’t it.”
With the Ravens struggling at the bye and in danger of missing the postseason for the fourth year in a row, it’s only natural that Harbaugh would start fielding questions about job security. He said Sunday he wasn’t concerned with being fired.
“I’ve never been someone who’s worried about keeping a job,” he said. “It’s always been, for me, (about) doing the job.”