Ravens struggling defense looks to rebound vs. Bengals
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Missed assignments, breakdowns in coverage and poor tackling.
For Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, that about sums up the recent struggles of his defense.
The Ravens need to quickly fix those problems with a matchup Sunday against the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals if they want to avoid going 0-3 for the first time in franchise history. Losses to Denver and Oakland have left the Ravens in last place in the AFC North, but Harbaugh is embracing the challenge of digging out of the early hole.
''We all understand the situation,'' Harbaugh said. ''We've lost two games in a row before. We've lost three games in a row before and we've overcome it. But we've never done it in the beginning of the season so it feels a lot tougher.
''Until you win your first game, you always have in the back of your mind, `Can we win a game?' Of course you can. But you have to win one. Every game is a fight.''
The Ravens were dealt a serious blow when outside linebacker Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles tendon in a season opening 19-13 loss at Denver.
Without the former All-Pro, Baltimore failed to put together an effective pass-rush the following game in Oakland, which put added pressure on the secondary. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw for 351 yards and three touchdown passes to lead his team to a 37-33 victory. The Ravens corners had trouble keeping up with Oakland's speedy receivers - Amari Cooper (seven catches for 109 yards) and Michael Crabtree (nine catches for 111 yards).
The Ravens made a move to boost its pass coverage Monday by acquiring cornerback Will Davis from Miami for a seventh-round draft pick. Davis is a third-year player who has been slowed by injuries and has yet to start an NFL game.
''He's a guy that we have been looking at for while,'' Harbaugh said. ''We liked him in the draft. We'll see how he fits in. He's a guy who really good coverage skills.''
To make room for Davis, the Ravens waived running back Terrence Magee.
The Ravens have reached the postseason in six of Harbaugh's first seven seasons. A loss to the Bengals could diminish their playoff hopes.
Baltimore is facing a familiar foe in Cincinnati, but that doesn't make the challenge any easier. The Bengals have one of the most talented and deep receiving corps in the NFL, starting with A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones.
''We've seen a lot of them over the years, and they have a lot of really good receivers - they have weapons,'' Harbaugh said. ''I'll tell you, I do believe it is the most talented team in the league. I've seen that over the years. We have great respect for them, for their coaches (and) the way they play. ''
While the Ravens offense struggled against Denver, the defense kept the Broncos out of the endzone. Against Oakland, the Ravens amassed 493 total yards with 29 first downs, but the defense could not make a key stop.
Harbaugh is confident that if the units get get in sync, the Ravens can overcome the slow start.
''It gives me a lot of hope that if we put it all together on both sides we can be a very good football team,'' Harbaugh said. ''It's hard to win when you play with one arm tied behind your back.''
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