Harbaugh absorbs brunt of blame for Ravens woes

BY foxsports • November 10, 2009

The Baltimore Ravens have assumed an identity that coach John Harbaugh could do without. "If you're going to define us right now, you'd have to say we're a .500 team. That's what we are at this point," Harbaugh said Monday. "We're a .500 team that's lost four out of the past five. We're struggling to find a way to win a game right now." For years, the Ravens were known for their defense. Early this season, they developed a potent offense. Neither unit performed effectively Sunday in a 17-7 loss to Cincinnati that dropped Baltimore to 4-4, two games behind the first-place Bengals in the AFC North. "Obviously we're very disappointed with the result, and we're disappointed with the way we played," Harbaugh said. "Cincinnati beat us really every way you can beat a team." In his first season as an NFL coach, Harbaugh took the Ravens to the AFC championship. His second year has not gone nearly as well. After opening with three straight wins, Baltimore lost three in a row by a combined 11 points before breezing past the previously unbeaten Denver Broncos. Then came Sunday's dud against the Bengals, who broke out to a 14-0 lead in the opening 14 minutes. The Ravens were penalized seven times for 80 yards - including a pair of pass interference calls that extended a Cincinnati touchdown drive. Baltimore mustered only 215 yards in offense, converted just one third down in 11 tries and held the ball for a mere 20 minutes. "As we sit here and take a look at where we're going, first of all, it starts with me," Harbaugh said. "It's my job to give our guys every opportunity to play as well as they can play, and I've got to find a way to do my job better. I think every person in the building feels that way right now." Many of the problems that surfaced at the beginning of Baltimore's 1-4 skid were evident against Cincinnati. The Ravens got off to a slow start, committed penalties at the worst time and had rookie kicker Steve Hauschka misfire on a pivotal field goal try. "For whatever reason we have not done things well, especially in critical situations," Harbaugh said. "I think the penalties are a big part of that. We have had penalties that have kept (opponent's) drives alive way too often this season. Same thing on offense. We're just not getting it done." Hauschka missed a 44-yarder on the final play of a 33-31 loss to the Minnesota Vikings and botched a 38-yarder against the Bengals with six minutes left that would have cut the gap to 17-10. Harbaugh said Hauschka had a "poor swing" on both kicks, each of which sailed wide left. But Harbaugh insisted there was no search for a new kicker, adding, "We think Steve is going to be a real good kicker in the NFL." This isn't at all the way Harbaugh expected the Ravens to reach the halfway point of the season. The playoffs are still not out of reach, but it doesn't take a mathematician to know Baltimore needs a heck of a second half to qualify. "I'm pretty sure we've got to win a bunch of games to get there, and we've got to be a lot better than 4-4 in the second half to get it done," Harbaugh said. The second half, which starts next Monday night in Cleveland, includes two games against the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers, a home game against unbeaten Indianapolis and a trip to Green Bay. "We have eight games. We have to make the most of it," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "We have to win the ones we're supposed to win. That's what it is right now. That's reality. That's where we put ourselves."