Tag Archive | "redskins"

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Ravens not looking for ways to lose, but defeats suddenly finding them

Posted on 09 December 2012 by Luke Jones

LANDOVER, Md. — Finding a way to win had been the Ravens’ mantra on their way to a 9-2 start this season despite critical injuries, a pedestrian defense, and a schizophrenic offense.

That combination prompted critics to continuously doubt how good the Ravens really were as they appeared ready to cruise to their second straight AFC North title.

But Sunday’s 31-28 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins left the Ravens searching for answers — and themselves — after suffering their second consecutive defeat for the first time in three years. They have never viewed themselves as the type of team that snatches defeat from the jaws of victory, but the Ravens have done just that the last two weeks.

“I don’t want to say we find a way to lose,” safety Ed Reed said. “We damn sure [aren’t] looking for a way to lose. This is the NFL. This is a season we’re going through.”

It’s been quite a season, indeed, as the peaks had been more prevalent than valleys, but this recent slide is territory not visited by the Ravens in recent seasons.

The Ravens don’t lose games at M&T Bank Stadium. Until they did last week against Pittsburgh for the first time in two years.

They bounce back from rare losses, refusing to fall into the pit of a losing streak. But they did just that at FedEx Field on Sunday as Redskins kicker Kai Forbath booted the game-winning 34-yard field goal to officially hand the Ravens a two-game skid.

And despite holding fourth-quarter leads in each of their last two games, the Ravens are now 0-2 in December, the month in which they’ve thrived under coach John Harbaugh. They entered last week’s game with a 14-5 record in December and January over their first four seasons under Harbaugh.

“I don’t want to be known as ‘Yeah, we get them close in the fourth quarter, and the Ravens are going to give it away,'” said running back Ray Rice, who rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. “That’s never been us. That’s not going to be us.”

But it has been them the last two games as they missed their opportunity to not only clinch a playoff spot but would have locked up the division title on Sunday after losses by Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

In reality, my overall opinion of the Ravens hasn’t changed dramatically over the last two weeks. But the results haven’t been the same as we saw over the season’s first 11 games.

Quarterback Joe Flacco and the offense produced 28 points but began the second half with two turnovers and two three-and-outs that caused their 21-14 halftime lead to shrink to 21-20 before their lone touchdown drive of the second half. They then produced another three-and-out in overtime before Richard Crawford’s 64-yard punt return sealed the Ravens’ fate.

The defense allowing 31 points certainly isn’t acceptable, but it was difficult to expect much better from the group with Terrell Suggs joining Dannell Ellerbe and Jimmy Smith on the sideline and Jameel McClain exiting the game in the third quarter. Even so, Dean Pees’ unit settled down after a brutal first quarter to keep the Redskins in check until they marched 85 yards for a touchdown pass, thrown by backup quarterback Kirk Cousins to add insult to injury.

At times, the Ravens looked like they would be good enough to come away with their 10th victory of the season.

But they weren’t and they didn’t. It’s a feeling they’re not used to.

“We are fighting through all the things you fight through at this stage of the season as a football team,” Harbaugh said. “That is why you don’t overreact to these things. It is a tough loss, and it is going to be a fight to the division championship and that is what we are fighting for right now.”

The Ravens lacked a killer instinct in the second half that was epitomized by Flacco, who followed a three-touchdown first half with two critical turnovers. The first was a sack-and-strip suffered by the quarterback for the second straight week after Michael Oher was beaten soundly by Rob Jackson. The second took potential points off the board and came inside the red zone as Flacco failed to react to a Ryan Kerrigan blitz quickly enough and was hit as he threw, leading to a London Fletcher interception.

CONTINUE >>>

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Our Ravens/Redskins “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 09 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

After Baltimore Ravens victories, Ryan Chell and I award players who made positive contributions with “Pats on the Ass” during the “Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net.

The Ravens fell to the Washington Redskins 31-28 in overtime Sunday at FedEx Field, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I again offered “Slaps to the Head” postgame. A slap on the side of the head from a coach tends to come along with them saying something along the lines of “you’ve gotta do better than that.”

Same rules as there were with Pats. Two offensive players, two defensive players, and a Wild Card (Special Teams player, coach, or another Offensive or Defensive player). One player gets “two slaps” (or a slap on both sides of the head), it’s the opposite of a “Player of the Game” honor.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches after each game.

Here are our five Ravens that have “gotta do better than that.”

Glenn Clark’s Slaps…

5. Matt Birk

4. Cary Williams

3. Ed Reed

2. Joe Flacco

1. John Harbaugh (Two Slaps)

(Ryan’s Slaps on Page 2…)

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Rice says Ravens need to get better

Posted on 09 December 2012 by WNSTV

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Flacco: “We just weren’t able to finish…”

Posted on 09 December 2012 by WNSTV

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Ravens-Redskins: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 09 December 2012 by Luke Jones

LANDOVER, Md. — A rainy and gloomy day at FedEx Field is the setting Sunday afternoon as the Ravens take on the Washington Redskins for the fifth time in their regular-season history.

Hoping to rebound from a disappointing loss to Pittsburgh last week, the Ravens will try to clinch their fifth consecutive trip to the postseason, but they’ll need help to do it. Baltimore will officially punch its ticket to the playoffs with a win and a loss from either Cincinnati or Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon.

Linebacker Terrell Suggs will not play despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week. The 30-year-old linebacker suffered a torn biceps last Sunday but was able to practice on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday. However, he deemed himself unready to go after testing out the right arm on Sunday morning.

As we learned on Friday, the Ravens will be without inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (ankle) and tight end Ed Dickson (knee), who were both ruled out after not practicing at all during the week. Both were injured in the win at San Diego two weeks ago and will miss their second consecutive game.

It will be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Dean Pees handles the linebacker position as Albert McClellan would be the logical choice to slide inside and replace Ellerbe as he did last week. However, with Suggs now out, the Ravens would like to have McClellan available to set the edge opposite rookie Courtney Upshaw because he is strong against the run. Assuming McClellan plays inside, the Ravens will rely on fourth-year linebacker Paul Kruger as an every-down player and he struggled mightily to set the edge against the running game earlier this season when Suggs was on the physically unable to perform list.

In a surprise move, the Redskins have listed return specialist Brandon Banks as inactive. He was not listed on the injury report this week, so it will be interesting to see how Washington handles its return duties.

The Ravens are wearing their white jerseys with black pants while Washington sports its burgundy jerseys and gold pants on Sunday afternoon.

Here are Sunday’s inactives …

BALTIMORE
LB Terrell Suggs
LB Dannell Ellerbe
TE Ed Dickson
CB Jimmy Smith
OL Ramon Harewood
DL Bryan Hall
WR Deonte Thompson

WASHINGTON
QB Rex Grossman
WR Brandon Banks
WR Dezmon Briscoe
LB Roddrick Muckelory
G Josh LeRibeus
G Adam Gettis
T Tom Compton

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the day as Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, and I bring live updates and analysis from FedEx Field throughout the day.

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Ravens-Redskins: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 08 December 2012 by Luke Jones

The Ravens missed their opportunity to clinch a playoff spot upon losing to Pittsburgh last week, but they’ll have another chance Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

Only they’ll need help this time around as Pittsburgh or Cincinnati needs to lose in addition to a Ravens win at FedEx Field to punch Baltimore’s ticket to the postseason for the fifth straight year. The Ravens can also clinch the AFC North title with a win coupled with losses by both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens attempt to improve to 4-1 all-time against the Redskins and remain in good position to earn the No. 2 seed in the conference …

1. Redskins running back Alfred Morris will run for 100 yards with Baltimore’s injuries at the linebacker position. The rookie running back has thrived in the shadow of his quarterback and has rushed for 1,106 yards this season to lead the top run offense in the NFL. The Baltimore run defense is suspect even at full strength and with inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe out and Terrell Suggs’ status in question after he suffered a torn right biceps last week, Morris may find plenty of room on the edges. Albert McClellan normally plays well against the run at the strongside linebacker spot, but he’ll be forced to slide inside in place of Ellerbe, potentially leaving rookie Courtney Upshaw and pass-rush specialist Paul Kruger to man the outside linebacker spots more extensively if Suggs potentially limited or inactive. This doesn’t bode well against Washington’s tendency to use the pistol formation and the option attack.

2. Tight end Dennis Pitta has 70 receiving yards as the Ravens expose the Washington defense over the middle of the field. The Redskins are weak at the safety spot and will be without normal No. 3 corner Cedric Griffin, meaning they will be vulnerable in the middle intermediate portion of the field. This is where Pitta and possession receiver Anquan Boldin normally thrive, and the Ravens would like to get their tight end more involved after a very quiet performance against Pittsburgh. Inside linebacker London Fletcher has also been slowed by an ankle injury, which could be another problem for the Redskins if the Ravens use three-wide sets and can match Pitta against the veteran linebacker. New York Giants tight end Martellus Bennett had five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown against Washington last week, and similar numbers for Pitta wouldn’t be surprising.

3. Robert Griffin III throws for 200 yards and a touchdown in another strong performance from the Redskins’ rookie quarterback. Without knowing how productive Suggs will be or whether the five-time Pro Bowl selection will even be on the field, it’s difficult to expect much from the Ravens’ pass rush, which may not be the end of the world with Griffin’s ability to leave the pocket and scramble. The question will be whether the Baltimore secondary can cover Pierre Garcon and other Redskins wide receivers efficiently enough to force the rookie quarterback to become anxious in the pocket. Cary Williams, Corey Graham, and Chykie Brown need to prevent the big play, but Griffin will still have sufficient time to make plays with short and intermediate passes like Charlie Batch did for Pittsburgh last week. Safety Ed Reed is normally licking his chops against a rookie signal caller, but Griffin has only thrown four interceptions all year. Washington’s success with the running game will once again alleviate pressure on the Redskins quarterback, who will have another strong afternoon.

4. Unlike his last road game in San Diego, quarterback Joe Flacco won’t wait until the fourth quarter in offering his most consistent performance of the season away from M&T Bank Stadium. I’ve waited all year for the fifth-year quarterback to have a dominating performance on the road, and he certainly provided a terrific fourth quarter and overtime in San Diego two weeks ago. However, the Ravens need Flacco to play well throughout the game on Sunday to give them their best chance to win against a Redskins team that should be able to score points. Washington has the 31st-ranked pass defense in the NFL and is undermanned in the back end on top of that. There are no excuses for Flacco this week as the Ravens have little margin for error the rest of the way if they want to earn a first-round bye for the second straight season. Whether it’s the law of averages or simply buying stock in the quarterback to bounce back from a clunker as he often has in the past, I expect Flacco to take advantage of a favorable matchup to throw for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. If he doesn’t, the Ravens will likely find themselves with a 9-4 record and a quarterback facing even louder questions and doubts next week.

5. The Ravens haven’t lost consecutive games since Oct. 2009 and will find a way to prevail in a 27-24 victory over Washington. I’m not sure how the Baltimore defense is going to slow down Griffin and the Washington running game, but the Ravens offense has no excuse to be anything but productive against the Redskins defense. Many media and fans will call for Ray Rice to receive 25 carries and for the Ravens to grind it out on the ground, but Washington is strong against the run and weak in the secondary. It will be a close game in Landover, but it’s never a good idea to doubt coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens when they feel like their backs are against the wall. The Steelers loss puts them in that position as they’re now tied with New England and Denver for the second-best record in the AFC. Meanwhile, Washington has won three straight and needs to keep winning to have any real shot at the postseason. With both teams feeling they need a win, I’ll go with experience and the Ravens finding a way to secure a victory.

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Suggs questionable; Ellerbe, Dickson ruled out against Redskins

Posted on 07 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After returning to the practice field on Thursday, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was listed as questionable on the team’s final injury report going into Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins.

The 30-year-old linebacker worked on a limited basis two days this week after acknowledging a need to test out his torn right biceps. Suggs described himself as a game-time decision earlier this week.

Coach John Harbaugh was pleased with the progress of the 2011 Defensive of the Year in returning to the practice field and once again deferred to Suggs in determining whether he will play at FedEx Field.

“[His arm] held up real well,” Harbaugh said. “He practiced for two days partially. As far as if you are asking what he is going to do, I really don’t know yet. We’ll just have to see where it goes on Sunday.”

Suggs used the practices to test his range of motion as well as his ability to complete simple football moves such as wrapping with his arms to make a tackle and engaging with blockers at the line of scrimmage in his role a pass rusher.

Teammates were encouraged by the five-time Pro Bowl selection’s work by the end of the week.

“He’s just getting it back,” linebacker Paul Kruger said. “Practice at this point in the season is always going to be a little slower and more low-key for everybody. I think he’ll be back in no time.”

The news wasn’t nearly as good for tight end Ed Dickson and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe as both players were ruled out and will miss their second straight game after suffering injuries in the Ravens’ win over San Diego two weeks ago. Neither have practiced at all over the last two weeks.

“They’re working hard to get back,” said Harbaugh before the two were officially declared out. “We probably thought that they would maybe be back last week, and it didn’t work out. We’ll just have to see for this week.”

Cornerback Jimmy Smith practiced on a limited basis on Friday as he did all week but was listed as doubtful. The second-year defensive back was not expected to play this week in his first workouts since undergoing sports hernia surgery.

The 2011 first-round pick had the surgical procedure on Nov. 15.

“He’s out there practicing [and] did a nice job,” Harbaugh said. “[He] moved around pretty well, broke up some scar tissue and things like that. That’s really important.”

Though not listed on the injury report because he’s ineligible to return to game action until next week, linebacker Ray Lewis practiced again on Friday as it’s appearing far more likely that he’ll come off injured reserve next week against the Denver Broncos.

Originally feared to be lost for the season with a torn triceps muscle in his right arm suffered on Oct. 14, Lewis would be returning to action a little over eight weeks following surgery for an injury estimated to have a recovery time of four months or more. His return to the practice field this week provided a boost to a Ravens team trying to bounce back from a disappointing and rare home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday.

“He moved around really well,” Harbaugh said. “You know Ray is going to stay in great shape. It’s not that long since he’s played, so he moved around really well. It was fun to have him out there. I know I was uplifted by it.”

The Redskins have listed linebacker London Fletcher, cornerback DeAngelo Hall, and offensive tackle Trent Williams as questionable for Sunday’s game.

BALTIMORE
OUT: TE Ed Dickson (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Asa Jackson (shoulder), CB Chris Johnson (thigh), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps)
PROBABLE: CB Chykie Brown (ankle), LB Josh Bynes (thigh), S James Ihedigbo (calf), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder)

WASHINGTON
QUESTIONABLE: LB London Fletcher (ankle), CB DeAngelo Hall (ankle/knee), T Trent Williams (thigh)
PROBABLE: WR Pierre Garcon (foot), P Sav Rocca (right knee), CB Josh Wilson (shoulder)

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Morning Reaction Picks and Comment – Week 14

Posted on 07 December 2012 by Luke Jones

Here are this weekend’s picks as The Morning Reaction will pick every NFL game this season.

Drew Forrester finished 10-6 last week while Luke Jones was 8-8 in Week 13. Forrester is 128-62 through 13 weeks and Jones is 122-68 overall. Official standings are only kept based on the NFL picks.

(Editor’s note: Drew and Luke both correctly picked Denver to beat Oakland on Thursday night.)

To hear their full explanations, click HERE.

Ravens at Redskins: Baltimore 22-17 (Drew), Baltimore 27-24 (Luke)
Chiefs at Browns: Cleveland 20-16 (Drew), Cleveland 20-17 (Luke)
Chargers at Steelers: Pittsburgh 27-20 (Drew), Pittsburgh 23-17 (Luke)
Cowboys at Bengals: Cincinnati 30-17 (Drew), Dallas 27-20 (Luke)
Titans at Colts: Indianapolis 38-10 (Drew), Indianapolis 31-21 (Luke)
Jets at Jaguars: New York 19-10 (Drew), Jacksonville 13-12 (Luke)
Bears at Vikings: Minnesota 24-21 (Drew), Chicago 24-20 (Luke)
Falcons at Panthers: Atlanta 23-20 (Drew), Atlanta 25-14 (Luke)
Eagles at Buccaneers: Tampa Bay 33-17 (Drew), Tampa Bay 27-16 (Luke)
Rams at Bills: Buffalo 31-20 (Drew), Buffalo 21-20 (Luke)
Dolphins at 49ers: San Francisco 27-3 (Drew), San Francisco 26-13 (Luke)
Saints at Giants: New York 41-33 (Drew), New York 31-24 (Luke)
Cardinals at Seahawks: Seattle 27-9 (Drew), Seattle 21-17 (Luke)
Lions at Packers: Green Bay 28-17 (Drew), Green Bay 31-23 (Luke)
Texans at Patriots: New England 28-24 (Drew), New England 26-21 (Luke)
Navy vs. Army: Midshipmen 38-6 (Drew), Midshipmen 27-24 (Luke)

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Ravens hoping to avoid being held up by “pistol” attack

Posted on 06 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A pair of rookies in Washington has given NFL defenses fits all season long as the Ravens will become the latest team to encounter Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris on Sunday afternoon.

As if their talents alone weren’t challenging enough, the use of the pistol formation and the option attack have made it even more difficult to contain Washington’s top-ranked rushing attack. The alignment involves Griffin lining up in an abbreviated shotgun look — four yards behind the center — with Morris lining up behind him. This allows the quarterback to get a better look at the defensive alignment and often dupes defensive fronts into focusing on motion in the backfield instead of playing assignments and maintaining gap control.

On what do you key to slow the unique offensive scheme? Is it the zone stretch plays or occasional inside handoffs to Morris, who enters Week 14 tied for third in the NFL with 1,106 rushing yards? Is the focus on Griffin’s speed and athleticism that have led to 714 rushing yards and six touchdowns? Or on his impressive passing skills in play-action that have led to the league’s third-best quarterback rating at 104.4?

What’s the most crucial factor?

“Discipline,” linebacker Jameel McClain said. “Discipline, because you must count on the next man. You must because everybody is going to have a certain assignment and if one person falls off his assignment, everything collapses. It’s definitely the understanding that we are all on a chain.”

Facing an offense with so many moving parts and possibilities — including fullback Darrel Young and tight end Logan Paulsen who will occasionally flank Griffin in the pistol — it’s important for each defender to focus less on the movement in the backfield and more on his specific job on a given play. Unlike most passing-challenged quarterbacks who run the option in college, however, Griffin’s rare blend of physical tools makes stopping the novelty offense much more of a headache.

The Ravens can only hope practice squad quarterback Dennis Dixon can provide the type of look needed to prepare the defense for Griffin’s play-making ability.

“Have your eyes on what your responsibility is,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “If it’s a dive, if it’s the quarterback, if it’s the pitch in the option, whatever it is, having your eyes on what you have. You have a responsibility, you have a technique, and you have to perform that thing.”

The Redskins have relied on the running game for most of the season — with Griffin’s legs heavily involved as well — but the return of top wide receiver Pierre Garcon has allowed the Washington passing attack to take off in recent weeks.

In his last three games, Griffin has tossed nine touchdown passes compared to one interception, including back-to-back four-touchdown games against Philadelphia and Dallas. Meanwhile, Garcon — limited all season with a foot injury — has caught 12 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games.

Garcon’s return from injury has transformed an ordinary group of wide receivers that includes Santana Moss and Josh Morgan into a dangerous unit Baltimore defensive backs must stay with in coverage despite the temptation of keeping their eyes in the backfield at the Redskins’ rushing attack.

All other factors aside, Washington’s offensive success begins and ends with Griffin, the No. 2 overall pick of April’s draft. A threat to run or pass while rolling out or standing in the pocket, there’s no simple way to stop him as few defenses have been successful in slowing him down despite the Redskins’ underwhelming 6-6 record.

“He’s the perfect quarterback for that [offense],” said McClain, who hasn’t played against an option attack since his days at Syracuse facing Pat White and West Virginia. “He has the arm to get all of the passes done out of that, and he definitely goes through with all the actions. Everybody knows he has the speed, so it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

Sunday might be the rare instance in which the Ravens’ inconsistent pass rush — which could be without linebacker Terrell Suggs — might be a blessing in disguise with Griffin a threat to leave the pocket at any moment.

Pees’ defense will still try to make Griffin uncomfortable when he drops back, but out-of-control spins and moves in which pass rushers crash inside will defer to proper positioning at the line of scrimmage to collapse the pocket while keeping the rookie quarterback surrounded. Unlike the manner in which teams dealt with athletic quarterback Michael Vick early in his career, however, teams have a greater fear of this rookie quarterback burning them with his throwing arm if they simply allow him to stand tall in the pocket.

A defense can play its assignment, but there’s only so much you can do after that from a schematic standpoint against a rare talent like his.

“You need to still rush the passer,” Pees said. “You can’t go in there thinking this guy is going to scramble. You have to come in with the right leverage, the right spot. He may still get out of it because he is such a great athlete. I can’t coach [against] athleticism — you really can’t.”

If all else breaks down for the Baltimore defense in trying to attack the many layers of Washington’s pistol formation, the Ravens won’t hesitate in simplifying their approach against Griffin and the entire offense.

“We’ve got to hit him,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “Every chance we get. Just hit him, hit whoever has the ball.”

 

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As one streak ends, Ravens try to continue another against Washington

Posted on 05 December 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens are not an organization accustomed to losing, a notion that’s become even more emphatic in the John Harbaugh era.

Losing at home is even rarer as Baltimore dropped its first game at M&T Bank Stadium in nearly two years last Sunday, snapping a 15-game home winning streak. To make matters worse, the defeat came at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers and prevented the Ravens from clinching their fifth consecutive trip to the playoffs.

Many players and coaches will tell you it’s business as usual following a loss and that the team remains unfazed, but quarterback Joe Flacco spoke the truth on Wednesday when asked if it was the status quo after the 23-20 loss to Pittsburgh and one of his most disappointing performances of the season.

“That’s probably a little bit of a lie,” said Flacco, cracking a smile. “There’s always a little bit of extra urgency after a loss, for whatever reason. I don’t know if it’s a bad thing or a good thing. But we are always calm, cool, and collected and confident around here.”

As the Ravens now leave behind their impressive home winning streak, they’ll try to hold onto another stretch in which they’ve won 15 consecutive games immediately following a loss. Baltimore hasn’t lost consecutive games since a three-game losing streak in Oct. 2009.

When asked what his team has done differently after a defeat to avoid any type of losing streak in the last three season, Harbaugh offered an interesting reply in suggesting how things change in those weeks of work following a loss at the team’s Owings Mills facility.

“Maybe it’s the fact that we don’t,” the head coach said. “We pay attention after every game. We really try to go to work and adhere to the process and work as hard as we can to build on all the good things and correct every negative thing.”

Of course, a team that’s lost only 11 regular-season games in its last three season doesn’t have much room for losing streaks, but the Ravens find an intriguing task in keeping that streak alive in Landover on Sunday against the red-hot Washington Redskins. Riding a three-game winning streak to improve its record to 6-6, Washington suddenly finds itself just a game behind the division-leading Giants and has a postseason berth on its mind.

Unlike the Ravens, who can clinch a playoff spot with a win and a loss by either Pittsburgh or Cincinnati, the Redskins must treat the final four games of the regular season like postseason contests as one loss could potentially spell the end for hopes of extending their season.

“It’s going to be two teams that are going out there and fighting,” running back Ray Rice said. “We are fighting for a playoff berth. They are fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive. You are talking about two different teams that have a lot at stake with this game.”

The Ravens have not only been successful in their last 15 games immediately following a loss, but they’ve often won in convincing fashion, outscoring opponents in those games by a 441-229 margin to remove any lingering stench from the previous week. In a season in which little has come easy, a win of any margin would be good enough for them in knowing they’d remain in position for the No. 2 seed in the AFC in the process.

An offense looking to rebound from a flat performance against the Steelers and to finally find consistency on the road — albeit only 35 miles away from their home stadium — and a defense trying to regroup and solve the read option and tricky pistol formation used by rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III will have plenty of work to keep them occupied against a dangerous opponent.

And the Ravens know those tasks should be enough to put the Pittsburgh loss out of their minds. They don’t really have a choice.

“It’s never a good feeling when you lose, but it’s the way you take a loss,” Rice said. “I’ve always taken the approach — me being a leader on the team — what are you going to do to get better or worse from it? We’ve just been that kind of team to find a way; we’ve always found a way to bounce back after a loss. [There is] no way to accept losing.”

Knowing their chances for the No. 1 seed were all but erased with last Sunday’s loss, the Ravens know their margin for error remains small if they want to earn a first-round bye and a home game in the divisional round. They’ve heard the doubts — both nationally and locally — about whether they belong in the same breath as other teams with similar records this season.

Perhaps the Ravens and their fans alike have taken winning for granted, but they hope Sunday doesn’t mark the end of another streak after their impeccable home mark was snapped.

Bouncing back is just the way the Ravens handle their business under Harbaugh, even with a challenge in front of them that appears more difficult now than it did even a few weeks ago. That resiliency is why they always find themselves in the same position in December.

“We’ve always been in it and right in the thick of things and really fighting for a spot,” Flacco said. “It’s no different this year. I’m sure that we do take it for granted a little bit, but that’s not a bad thing.”

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