Ravens eager to get another win streak going
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — For the first time in a month, the Baltimore Ravens had a win to savor. And the timing couldn't have been any better.
After losing three straight and then fidgeting through a bye, the Ravens ripped apart the previously unbeaten Denver Broncos in a 30-7 victory Sunday. The players insisted it wasn't a must-win situation, yet knew a defeat would have dropped them two games behind Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in the AFC North.
"Pressure• No," wide receiver Derrick Mason said Monday. "But we understood that in order to keep ground with the two teams in front of us, we had to win this game."
The Ravens opened the season with three consecutive wins, then dropped three in a row by a combined 11 points before ambushing the Broncos. While it would seem that Baltimore (4-3) now has some momentum to bring into this Sunday's rematch with the Bengals, coach John Harbaugh sacked that notion in the same fashion linebacker Jarret Johnson flattened Denver quarterback Kyle Orton on the opening play from scrimmage.
"Every game stands on its own. Every game is its own entity," Harbaugh said. "Whatever success or failure you have one week does not guarantee or ensure anything for the next week. Our guys are excited about the fact that they played well against a very effective offense, but we're going to line up against a really effective offense Sunday. That presents a challenge for us."
The goal against the Broncos was to erase the sinking feeling created by a winless October that included a 17-14 defeat at home against the Bengals. The Ravens didn't alter their schedule during the bye week that preceded the Denver matchup, but Harbaugh acknowledged that the coaches and players might have worked overtime on their own to get things fixed.
The result made the effort worthwhile.
"We got off of that skid, now maybe we've got to get this thing to snowball," linebacker Terrell Suggs said.
"It definitely feels much better to get a win," said quarterback Joe Flacco, who completed 20 of 25 passes — including the final 14 — against the No. 1 defense in the NFL. "The last three weeks, even though we were close and we felt like we really played well, it's tough when you have to go back on Monday and watch yourself lose."
The film session of the Denver game featured a wide list of feel-good moments, including a 95-yard kickoff return by rookie Lardarius Webb, an 84-yard rushing performance by Ray Rice and a redemptive effort by a defense that had come under fire for surrendering fourth-quarter leads in losses to Cincinnati and Minnesota.
Denver managed only 200 yards, went 3 for 13 on third-down tries and scored a season-low seven points.
It all started with Johnson's sack of Orton.
"It's good to hit the quarterback on the first play when they drop back to pass," Harbaugh said. "If they're throwing the ball on the first play of the game, we sure want to hit him because it's going to set the tone for the rest of the game."
The Ravens finally played defense under first-year coordinator Greg Mattison as they did when Rex Ryan was in charge of the unit.
"We talked all week about getting better in every area," Harbaugh said. "There were no new calls, there were no new inventions. It was all part of the package that Greg and his staff put together. But I thought they did a really good job of putting together a plan for Denver and going after it. And the guys executed it well."
Suggs said, "For all the heat coach (Mattison) has been getting, he put together a really good package for the Broncos. You got to give credit where credit is due. I think coach Mattison did a good job of putting all of us in the right places."