Reeling Ravens left bitter
Win or lose, it is never dull inside the Baltimore Ravens' locker room.
That was especially true Monday night, in the wake of the team's worst defeat under ninth-year coach Brian Billick.
In the far corner, defensive linemen laughed as they swapped Willie Parker anecdotes. They weren't real impressed with Fast Willie, who was held to 42 yards on 23 carries in a 38-7 victory.
Defensive end Trevor Pryce finally turned toward the showers and said, to no one in particular, "Willie (expletive) Parker. What a fraud."
Some players could not bring themselves to credit the Steelers, who'd held them to five first downs and 104 total yards.
And how about Ben Roethlisberger throwing five touchdown passes in the first half and finishing with a perfect passer rating of 158.3?
"When you give somebody that many opportunities, anybody can make a play," linebacker Ray Lewis said, referring to his team's four first-half turnovers. "Now, come see us in Baltimore."
The rematch is Dec. 30 in the regular-season finale. Question is, will it mean anything to a Ravens team that looks older than Walter Cronkite and has dropped to 4-4, including 0-3 in the AFC North?
Somebody asked left tackle Jonathan Ogden -- he has to be older than Cronkite -- if the Steelers did anything different with linebacker James Harrison, who went Lawrence Taylor-crazy with nine tackles, 3 1⁄2 sacks, six quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles, one recovered fumble, an interception and a partridge in a pear tree (or least Ed Reed on a platter).
Ogden made a face so bitter you'd have thought he swallowed a case of lemons. "No," he said, before cutting off further inquiries.
Pryce called Roethlisberger's precision passes "luck" and said, "Whatever their game plan was, it didn't work."
You know it's not your night, Pryce said, "when a little 5-9 linebacker (Harrison actually is listed at 6 feet) gets four sacks. That will never happen again in his life. He knows that."
Harrison didn't seem overly pleased when that quote was relayed to him.
"Who is Trevor Pryce?" he said.
Reporter: "A defensive end for the Ravens."
Harrison: "He's entitled to his opinion. ... What did he do?"
Well, besides ring up zero tackles, Pryce failed to wrap up Roethlisberger on one of those lucky touchdown passes.
The only Ravens players who sounded semi-rational were linebacker Bart Scott and quarterback Steve McNair.
"They had a great game plan, went after our young guys," said Scott, referring to backup cornerbacks who were forced to start. "Ben was seeing the initial rush, getting out of the pocket and making plays. All the credit goes to them. They were the better team today."
That said, Scott was livid with Hines Ward, who laid out Scott and Reed with mammoth hits.
"He was being who he is, taking his shots," Scott said. "Next time it happens, I'll find him and make sure I take the most violent shot I can take. We'll see them again, and I'll play violent. I'll play all the way to the edges of the rules."
Watching these Ravens, you have to wonder if they'll return next season in anything resembling their current form. Billick, Lewis, Ogden, McNair. It's beginning to feel as if time is running out on this group.
Baltimore hasn't won a playoff game since 2001, for goodness sakes, a year before the AFC North was formed.
"The season's not over, but we are a team in crisis right now," Scott admitted. "There's no denying that."
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