Skidding Ravens hope to heal, improve offense during bye
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) The Baltimore Ravens entered their bye week with a four-game losing streak, a broad injury list and the fleeting hope that it's not too late to salvage the season.
Baltimore's 3-0 start has been offset by its longest skid since coach John Harbaugh took the job in 2008. The Ravens (3-4) staggered through October without a victory, losing to Oakland and Washington at home before falling to the Giants and Jets on successive weekends in New Jersey.
The low point came Sunday in a 24-16 loss to the Jets, who entered with a 1-5 record. Baltimore gained only 42 yards in the second half - minus-6 on the ground - and failed to score after halftime.
Performing without five former Pro Bowl players - all sidelined by injury - the Ravens frittered away a 10-point lead for the second week in a row.
If ever a team needed a week off, it's Baltimore.
''We have a chance to hopefully put the finishing touches on a number of these (injury) recoveries and hopefully be as close to or at full strength when we get back,'' Harbaugh said Monday. ''Then we go to work.''
The Ravens watched film Monday and are scheduled to practice Tuesday and Wednesday before taking the rest of the week off. When they return, they'll turn their focus toward an AFC North matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 6.
By then, Harbaugh hopes to have many of his best players back on the field. Harbaugh won't use injuries as an excuse, but the absence of linebackers Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil (foot) and C.J. Mosley (thigh), wide receiver Steve Smith (ankle) and guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) makes winning difficult.
With Yanda and rookie Ronnie Stanley missing from the offensive line, the running game was non-existent and quarterback Joe Flacco often threw under duress. Flacco was intercepted twice, sacked once and hit four times.
''Well, it's always way better to be healthy and have your best players on the field,'' Harbaugh acknowledged, adding, ''but we've got to play with the guys we've got.''
In an effort to get more points on the board, Harbaugh fired offensive coordinator Marc Trestman two weeks ago and promoted quarterbacks coach Marty Mornhinweg to the position. The transition has done nothing to improve the running game, which finished with six yards on 12 carries against the Jets.
The Ravens can't win if they can't run the ball, and Harbaugh knows it.
''These next two days, we've got some ideas that we've been kind of been working out,'' the coach said. ''This will be an opportunity to try some things. We're not going to have some big, monstrous change in what we're doing. We believe in the things that we're doing. We just want to do them better; game plan them better, scheme them better, block them better, all those sorts of things.''
Despite the four-game slide, the Ravens remain on the heels of Pittsburgh in the AFC North.
''We're one game out of first in the division and we're playing the team that's first in the division, which is our arch rival,'' Harbaugh said. ''So, what more could you ask for than that?
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL