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Ravens Turn the Page


With one final look at game tape from the Ravens' 31-3 shellacking at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts, head coach John Harbaugh couldn't pinpoint any one thing his team needs to correct moving forward.

Considering Baltimore's top-ranked defense surrendered its highest point total of the season, and the Ravens had trouble getting anything going in all three phases of the game, there was more to the loss than a single play or series.

"To me, it's a function of how we just need to get better all across the board," Harbaugh said during his Monday press conference. "We're going to be doing this for the next three or four years here. To say that the result is last Sunday, it's not true. The result is where we're going and what we're becoming.

"So, you've got a board across here, and there are a thousand things we've got to get better at. We've got to punch all those things up all the way across the board and just keep working. Then, all of a sudden, you become a productive offense, defense or special teams."

The Ravens (2-3) did drop their third straight game to fall under .500, but the matchup in Indianapolis was a loss of a different ilk.

Against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans in Weeks 4 and 5, respectively, Baltimore was felled by a combined six points and lost fourth-quarter leads each time.

Meanwhile, the Colts managed to jump out to a 31-pound lead before Matt Stover booted a 37-yard field goal midway through the third quarter to finally put the Ravens on the scoreboard.

"[We] pretty much see it the same way as we saw it last night," Harbaugh explained. "We got beat by a football team that played extremely well. They executed better, pretty much, in every phase, and their quarterback played exceptionally well, their skill guys played well, their defense played fast, and they beat us."

It didn't take long for Baltimore's coaches to turn the setback into a teaching tool, however.

Harbaugh focused on five areas that are critical to address in the coming week before the Ravens travel to Miami to take on the 2-3 Dolphins.

First, the Ravens committed five turnovers, three of which came on interceptions from rookie quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco also flubbed a handoff that Ray Rice recovered, and wideout Derrick Mason lost a fumble late in the fourth quarter.

Baltimore had at least tied in the turnover battle in each of its first four games. Additionally, Flacco went from throwing no interceptions in the season opener and on his Monday Night Football debut in Pittsburgh to tossing five in the ensuing two tilts.

"It's just an issue of him learning from those mistakes," Harbaugh said of Flacco's picks. "We keep saying that, but we don't want the turnovers next week. Those are things that he's going to learn how to do as we go. We're going to press real hard, and he's going to work hard to make it sooner rather than later."

Sacks were a factor in Flacco's miscues – and Indianapolis' Peyton Manning's three-touchdown outing.

The Colts were relentless rushing the passer, coming up with four sacks on Flacco. Meanwhile, Baltimore's fierce pass rush only came up with two, including one credited to Trevor Pryce when Manning fell on his drop from center.

"We've got to get more [sacks], and they've got to get less," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh also thought big plays were dangerous. Manning not only hit Pro Bowl wideout Marvin Harrison with a 67-yard rainbow of a touchdown, but he also found Reggie Wayne for a 34-yard strike that set up a touchdown run from running back Dominic Rhodes.

And, Rhodes even shook off five or six defenders en route to a 38-yard scamper to set up Harrison's second score of the first half.

Manning completed 19 of 28 passes for 271 yards, earning a 134.7 quarterback rating.

"If you make those guys go the length of the field – they're capable of doing it – but there's a chance you can make a play somewhere along the way," stated Harbaugh of Indianapolis' dangerous passing threats.

Flacco would also have been well-served by more punch from a rushing attack that was fourth in the NFL after averaging 153.8 yards per game.

Against the Colts, Baltimore came away with only 51 ground yards, despite facing the league's worst run defense.

"The run against those guys is always going to be critical, and we were unable to do it and credit them," Harbaugh continued. "They got off blocks better than we blocked."

Finally, Harbaugh wants to see more of a spark in the return game, where Yamon Figurs averaged 17.7 yards on three kickoff returns, all of which were returned from inside the end zone.

"There's a multitude of techniques and spacing and timing and geometry involved, and they've all been different issues. But, [they're] all things that we have to correct," the coach said. "It basically boils down to blocking and running with the football – hitting the hole in the right spot and keeping the timing correct."

Of course, those were but a few things Harbaugh and the Ravens' coaching staff will consider as Sunday's showdown with the Dolphins nears.

Turning the page on the worst loss of his young head coaching career, Harbaugh is treating the Colts defeat like he would any other week.

"This situation, like any situation, is what we make of it," Harbaugh said. "We could have a great victory, and we could be sitting here undefeated, and we'd [still] be talking about the 100 things we need to do to get better.

"That's how we have to approach it."

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