Ravens Aren't Flinching, Focus Ahead

Oh how the NFL season can turn on a dime.

Atop the AFC North and riding back-to-back blowout wins two weeks ago, the Ravens are now in last place in their division after back-to-back losses to the Bengals and Steelers.

The Ravens are 5-4. Their first three losses were all by narrow margins. Sunday night's 43-23 defeat at Heinz Field was not, and was especially tough to swallow coming at the hands of their rivals.

But as dark as the clouds appear right now in Baltimore, the Ravens are still in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt.

As of now, the wild-card leaders are Pittsburgh (6-3) and Buffalo, Miami and Kansas City, who are all tied at 5-3. The Ravens are just a half-game behind those squads, who have all had their byes.

"We'll bounce back," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

"The NFL season is long for a reason. You can look back on every season and history will prove that you can get blown out and bounce back. We've done it before. Plenty of other teams have done it before. Teams have done it this year in the National Football League. That's what we've got to do."

The Ravens suffered a 43-13 loss in Houston in Week 7 in 2012. They rebounded with four straight wins, made the playoffs and later won Super Bowl XLVII.

Of course, every year and team is different. But it goes to show that blowout losses aren't always the death of a team's season. Asked if the Ravens can come back from such a loss, linebacker Daryl Smith said, "We don't have any choice."

"We aren't going to lay down," he said. "We are going to bounce back and watch film [Monday] and play better next week."

The Ravens are done with what looks to be the toughest part of their schedule, capped by two very challenging road games against their AFC North rivals.

Baltimore will return home to play the Tennessee Titans next week before a much-needed bye. The rest of the Ravens' opponents are a collective 26-33 so far this season.

Four of the next seven are also in the friendly confines of M&T Bank Stadium. Of the Ravens' four losses this season, only one (Cincinnati, Week 1) was at home.

"Take care of your home games and do what you can on the road and you should be fine," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "We're not flinching. We knew this was going to be a tough stretch. We're not worried about it, we're not discouraged. But we've got work to do."

The Ravens won't just rely on an expected rebound.

They have to stop turning the ball over, as they've done six times in the past three games. They have to sure up an offensive line that allowed quarterback Joe Flacco to get battered Sunday night. They need to find a solution in a banged-up secondary.

"There are still seven games left in the season. That's a lot of opportunities to win football games," Harbaugh said.

"That's what our focus has to be. You look back at this game to the extent that you try to get better. We've got to improve. That was true a month ago. It's been true throughout the course of the season. We have to continue to get better and improve as a football team. If we do that, we'll be okay."

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