Notes: Willis Not Making Excuses

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Ravens running back Willis McGahee knows he hasn't consistently shown what he's capable of as a dynamic running back this season.

After rushing for only 32 yards on 11 carries and losing a fumble last week against the Washington Redskins, McGahee still has a sour taste in his mouth.

But the Pro Bowler is not letting his recent performances keep him down. If anything, McGahee is taking ownership of his situation and is as determined as ever.

"I played like doo-doo," he said Thursday. "It's nothing to be happy about. I just have to try to do better this game."

As the Ravens head into a critical AFC North matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, McGahee hasn't come close to 100 yards since rushing 112 against the Houston Texans on Nov. 9.

Since then, he had games of 18 yards and 8 yards, and then did not receive a carry in Week 13 despite being active for the game in Cincinnati.

Even though he rushed for 1,207 yards last year in his first season as a Raven, McGahee isn't hoping for just a few big carries to break out of his rut. He wants to finish his season on a high note.

"I'm looking for a complete season, that's all," he said. "Not just one carry, because I had a couple of big carries in the Houston game. I'm looking for a whole season."

McGahee has dealt with a litany of injuries this year. He had arthroscopic knee surgery in the preseason, followed by eye, ribs and ankle injuries throughout the regular season.

Has his sixth year in the league been frustrating?

"In a way it has, but I'm glad I can still go out there and play," he explained. "Even though I've had the surgeries and all that, I'm not making excuses, but I've made the decision to go out there and play, and I haven't been performing the way I can."

As McGahee works back towards the playmaking running back teammates, coaches, analysts and fans have come to expect, the Ravens are leaning on fullback Le'Ron McClain and rookie Ray Rice to tote the load.

When asked if he thought Baltimore's coaches still have confidence in him, McGahee was noncommittal.

"To tell you the truth, I wouldn't," McGahee said. "It's not like I've had my best season. I'm not out there making plays, so right now Le'Ron and Ray are the guys. You stick with your guns."

But, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron affirms that the Ravens will continue to utilize their three-headed rushing attack throughout the season.

"It's still going to be running back by committee," Cameron said. "We like that. I think it's good for us from a game-plan standpoint. People can't really zero in on, 'Is it going to be Ray Rice? Is it going to be Le'Ron [McClain], is it going to be Lorenzo Neal? Is it going to be Willis [McGahee]?' We'll continue with that approach.

"I know that it becomes a lot of analysis, but this has been our approach from Day One. We're not going to overreact if a guy plays really well, and give this guy the stamp as the starter, or a guy doesn't play well and he's not going to play. Every guy has a rough game every now and then, and we're going to need every one of these guys down the stretch."

Playoff Scenarios

Aside from the chance to move into a tie in the AFC North with the Steelers with a win this weekend, the Ravens can actually clinch a playoff spot if a few things happen.

  • A Ravens win plus a loss from the New England Patriots against the Oakland Raiders, plus a New York Jets loss or tie to the Buffalo Bills would do it.
  • A win and a New England loss and a Miami Dolphins loss or tie versus the San Francisco 49ers can get the Ravens there.
  • A win and a Miami loss and a loss or tie from the Indianapolis Colts against the Detroit Lions clinches a spot.
  • Or, a win, along with a Miami loss and a Jets loss can put the Ravens in the playoffs only if the Colts clinch a strength of victory tiebreaker over the Dolphins.

Ravens Fans Make Voices Heard

Baltimore fans have spoken with their Pro Bowl votes, as four Ravens led their positions in fan votes this year.

Inside linebacker Ray Lewis, free safety Ed Reed, fullback Le'Ron McClain and special teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo topped their positions in voting.

Fan voting ended Tuesday, and it counts for one-third of the decision towards the 2009 Pro Bowl.

Notable

Defensive coordinator Rex Ryan was asked by reporters if Lewis was playing at a heavier weight than his listed 250 pounds. "He's playing big," Ryan answered. "He's hitting people, and they're going backwards. It is funny because he looks like it's the same Ray Lewis, but man, he is really delivering some shots this year. Big hits turn games - the momentum of games. I'm glad he's on our side." Lewis is currently leading the Ravens with 134 tackles. … Kicker Mat Stover seemed to hurt his ankle last week against the Redskins, but he made it a point to show media in Thursday's locker room that his ankle was fine. "I'm definitely not missing this game," he said as he rotated his ankle in front of reporters. "With his history, I would expect him to be out there Sunday kicking field goals," said special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg. "I know this is certainly not a game that he wants to miss, so he's doing everything he can to get healthy and get ready to go." … View the latest Ravens-Steelers Injury Report for Sunday's game.

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