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Harbaugh: Ravens will be ‘real interesting story’ by end of season

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The Sports Xchange

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — John Harbaugh believes the Baltimore Ravens can still be a good football team.

At this point, he might have to wait for next season to see that happen.

The Ravens fell to 1-6 with a Monday night loss to the Arizona Cardinals and are now tied with the Detroit Lions for the worst record in the NFL.

Penalties, missed tackles and poor coverage have hindered the defense. The offense has been held back by turnovers, dropped passes and a lack of big plays from the receivers.

So far, the Ravens have simply not been able to consistently fix those problems. The result?

The team is off to the worst start in franchise history.

“We’ve got to be good enough to overcome those things,” Harbaugh said. “That’s how we look at it. We find a way, and we’ll continue to find a way. This is a tough story that we’re writing right now. A lot of teams would fold their tent in this situation. Not the Ravens. It’s not gonna happen. We’ll be writing a story. And it’s gonna be a real interesting story to read before it’s all said and done.”

The schedule did not do the Ravens any favors this season. Baltimore played five of its first seven games on the road, including four matchups against opponents on the West Coast. Nonetheless, the Ravens had an opportunity to tie the game or take the lead in the final two minutes in each of their six losses. They simply have not been able to make a clutch play.

The eight-point loss to the Cardinals was the largest margin of defeat this season.

Even though the remaining schedule has more home games, it might be too late to salvage anything more than high draft pick in 2016. The Ravens return home on a short week for a game against the Chargers and quarterback Philip Rivers, who leads the league with 2,452 passing yards.

The Ravens have lost three straight games following their most recent Monday night appearances. Still, the coaches and players have vowed to fight through the adversity.

“You keep your poise and you fight like crazy to overcome them,” Harbaugh said. “Let me tell you: The thing I know, the one thing I know, is those guys in the locker room right there, they’re fighting with everything they’ve got to win a football game. And games in this league are gonna be close. They’re gonna come down to plays just like that and they’re gonna turn on calls like that many times. And you expect them to be consistent and fair. That’s what you ask for. Our guys are just gonna just have to overcome it.”

While the defense played better against the Cardinals’ high-powered offense, quarterback Joe Flacco struggled. Still, Flacco had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds but he was intercepted by Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson in the end zone.

“It’s just where we are,” Flacco said. “But the game was 26-10. It should have been 27-10. We probably didn’t play well enough to win the football game. But we’re always in them. It’s gonna be a fight down to the end. We’re not gonna give up.

REPORT CARD VS. CARDINALS:

–PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus. Quarterback Joe Flacco was 26 of 40 for 252 yards with a touchdown. However, Flacco threw another interception in the end zone on the potential game-tying drive. Wide receiver Marlon Brown had another key drop on second down that would have helped extend a drive. Steve Smith, who is fighting a back injury, was the Ravens’ best player again with five catches for 78 yards.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: C. The Ravens’ running attack never got going against the Cardinals’ front seven. Starter Justin Forsett, hampered by an ankle injury, had 36 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown. Rookie Buck Allen did show some explosiveness and had a 15-yard run where he ran over a defender.

–PASS DEFENSE: C-plus. This group performed much better against a quarterback who has been traditionally dominant against them. Carson Palmer was 20 of 29 for 275 yards with a pair of touchdowns, but the Ravens did manage to keep him off-balance for parts of the game, forcing a key intentional grounding late in the game. The secondary also did an improved job against Arizona’s talented receivers.

–RUSH DEFENSE: D. Baltimore lost its focus and allowed running back Chris Johnson (18 carries, 122 yards) to reel off a 62-yard run when it initially appeared nose tackle Brandon Williams had tackled him just past the line of scrimmage. It was ruled that Johnson fell on top Williams and never touched the ground. Johnson was conscientious enough to extend the play, while the Ravens were caught off guard.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: D. Jeremy Ross fumbled a punt late in the first half, which helped set up a Cardinals touchdown. That was essentially the turning point in the game as Baltimore never led again. Kicker Justin Tucker made a 44-yard field and coverage was solid.

–COACHING: D. The coaches simply cannot get a higher grade with another loss. When the communication system broke down on the final series of the game, Baltimore could effectively not adjust. This led to a breakdown in blocking and an interception by quarterback Joe Flacco. The Ravens have lost six games by a total of 28 points. They had a chance to tie or take the lead in the final two minutes in each of those losses, but could not come up with a successful play.


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