Ravens React To A.J. Green Beating Them Again


The scene in front of cornerback Jimmy Smith's locker told the story of how disappointed the Ravens were after Sunday's gut-wrenching 28-24 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Baltimore had just given up a pair of fourth-quarter leads to fall to 0-3 on the season, and Ravens killer A.J. Green led the comeback effort with a landmark day against Baltimore's secondary.

Smith spent much of the day matched up against Green, and the fifth-year cornerback was visibly upset after the receiver torched Baltimore's defense for 227 receiving yards. Smith spent several minutes sitting on a stool staring into his locker. A few teammates came over to offer words of encouragement.

Several players had already showered and left the stadium, but Smith was still in full uniform sitting on the stool. When he finally showered and changed, Smith was still too upset to face questions from a group of about two dozen reporters.

"I'm too emotional to talk right now," Smith said quietly. "I'll talk with you this week."

Smith clearly felt the weight of Green's big day, as he was the man in coverage when the receiver caught a 7-yard game-winning touchdown pass. Smith spent the afternoon trailing Green around the field, trying his best to keep up.

But Green was just too much for Smith and the Ravens to handle, as he scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter that erased both of Baltimore's leads. His 227 receiving yards were the third-most the Ravens have allowed in team history.

"We have to do better as a secondary to contain their best players, and come up with stops when we need them," safety Kendrick Lewis said. "We did a poor job. We did a poor job closing out this ball game to give our team the win."

Green's big-game heroics against the Ravens have become an annual ritual. He caught a 77-yard fourth-quarter touchdown last year at M&T Bank Stadium to give the Bengals another comeback win. He also caught touchdowns of 53 and 51 yards against the Ravens in 2013.

In his last four games against Baltimore, Green has caught 28 passes for 570 yards and five touchdowns.

"It seems to be a regular occurrence with him," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "One of these days, we'll figure out how to cover A.J. Green. It'd be nice if we did that one time before he retires. They re-signed him, didn't they? So he's going to be around for a while. We better figure it out."

Harbaugh and the defense didn't point to a particular reason for why Green had such a big day because the issues varied based on the situation.

His 80-yard touchdown grab came when the Ravens were in zone coverage bringing pressure on quarterback Andy Dalton. Green just found a seam in the coverage, then shook off three tacklers before getting into the end zone.

The final touchdown also came when the Ravens pressured Dalton, but Smith was left in man coverage on the edge.

"You take responsibility across the board," Harbaugh said. "It's execution, it's finding a better way to play. There are options that you have on that last play down there in the red zone, on the [7-yard] line, besides man coverage, but we decided to blitz them and get after them. And they beat us."

The Ravens have now lost back-to-back games when the secondary allowed big plays and a late comeback. The unit was the undoing of the defense late last season, and it has again cost the Ravens in the last two games this year.

Veteran cornerback Kyle Arrington, an offseason acquisition, offered some words of encouragement to a dejected Smith after the game, reminding him to have a short memory. The Ravens can't afford to let the disappointment of Sunday's loss linger, especially with a matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers' potent offense looming in four days.

"It's difficult. I'm not going to sit up here and lie," Arrington said. "It's a very prideful group, and to lose in that fashion in back-to-back weeks is very tough. It's another tough pill to swallow. But in the same respect, we have a lot of pride. We still have 13 games left and we're going to play our butts off."

Check out the best game-action and on-field photos from M&T Bank Stadium as the Ravens host the Bengals!

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