Eric Weddle wasn't interested in wallowing over the Ravens' loss to the Dallas Cowboys Sunday.
The veteran safety spoke with optimism after the 27-17 defeat at AT&T Stadium, stressing that the Ravens need to consider the big picture at this point of the season. They still lead the AFC North, have three games left against division rivals and control their own path to a playoff berth.
"Nobody likes to lose, especially a big game, but this wasn't a one-game season," Weddle said. "Everyone needs to understand that we're still going to come to work Monday, and you better have a great attitude that you want to get better and you want to work, and not be down in the dumps just because we lost a game against one of the best teams in the league."
The Cowboys (9-1) have the best record in the NFL, and the Ravens gave them a good run. It was a sign that the Ravens (5-5) can compete against the league's best, but they have to clean up their self-inflicted miscues if they are going to get to that level.
"I hope and I believe this team will look at each other, look at ourselves first, and realize these little things, little mistakes that you do against a good team on the road come up and bite you," Weddle said. "Let's reel it in. Let's work at the little things. We are still a confident team."
The mistakes that doomed Baltimore against Dallas are mostly issues that have persisted all season. The offense struggled to get in the red zone and committed costly penalties that stalled drives. The defense also couldn't stop the passing game without top cornerback Jimmy Smith on the field.
Dallas capitalized on their mistakes and didn't make any of their own, providing the Ravens with a clear picture of where they have to improve if they're going to get themselves to the postseason.
"I think the thing to take from it is if we play good, solid football and play winning football, eliminate the mistakes, we would have won the game in my mind," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "That's how I look at it."
Several players were clearly frustrated after the loss, particularly quarterback Joe Flacco, because they felt like the they had a great opportunity Sunday to prove themselves against a premier team. But that frustration was also a sign of the team's confidence, as Flacco boldly told reporters, "I really feel we should beat this team. We should beat pretty much every team we play."
While disappointment certainly permeated the locker room, players were also quick to point out the big picture.
"I think we're fine, honestly," wide receiver Mike Wallace said. "Obviously, you want to win every time you step on the field, but we know that's not realistic. But we're still in a good spot. We lead the division. We control our own destiny. That's the way you want it.
The results Sunday dropped the Ravens into a tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5), who beat the Cleveland Browns to end a four-game losing skid. The Ravens currently have the edge over the Steelers because they beat them in Week 9, and the rivals will see each other again on Christmas Day.
The Ravens also have two games left against the Cincinnati Bengals (3-6-1), who are reeling and may have lost Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green for the rest of the season to a hamstring injury. The Bengals are coming to M&T Bank Stadium next week, and the Ravens know they have to snap their current five-game losing streak to Cincinnati to get back on track.
"Our eyes go to next week against Cincinnati at home," Harbaugh said. "Six-game season and we need to take care of our business and part of that's improving. We've got to improve."
Beating the Bengals would essentially eliminate them from playoff contention, and make the AFC North a two-team race for the stretch run. The Ravens clearly still have goals of returning to the playoffs, and the loss to Dallas provided both a perspective on where they need to improve, and a bit of confidence that they can absolutely compete with the NFL's best.
"Everything is right there in front of us," Weddle said. "Basically the message was just, stay confident. Everything is right there. It is a 16-game season. This season is going to be defined by these next six games, not what happened today."