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Ravens looking to rise above mediocrity after embarrassing loss

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) fights to break free from Baltimore Ravens safety Eric Weddle (32) during the first half of play on September 13, 2018 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo by John Sommers II/UPI

By Todd Karpovich, The Sports Xchange

The Ravens are 4-4 in a ".500 league."

That was the proclamation from Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh in the aftermath of an embarrassing 36-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 8.

Now, the Ravens face a critical game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2-1) and likely need a win to keep their hopes alive for an AFC North title.

"We're a game out of first place, and we got our season in front of us," Harbaugh said at his Monday press conference. "We'd all love to have a better record than we do right now. We probably should have a better record, but the record is what it is."

The vaunted Ravens defense, which entered the game against Carolina ranked first for fewest yards (280.6) and fewest points (14.4) allowed, was picked apart by quarterback Cam Newton. He completed 21-of-29 passes for 219 yards with a pair of touchdowns. Newton also ran for a 12-yard score that provided a 33-14 lead with just under 10 minutes left in the game.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith played a big part in those struggles. After being called for a pair of pass interference penalties and getting beat for a touchdown last week against the Saints, Smith allowed receptions on 5-of-6 targets for 58 yards against the Panthers.

His teammates are holding everyone accountable.

"You know, you don't play well as a team, you're not going to win or have a chance, yet alone being in the game," safety Eric Weddle said. "We had some chances early. For us defensively, they present a lot of misdirection and formations, different plays and it was tough to get in a rhythm with them and Cam played an outstanding game.

"Hit some big throws, extending some plays and I'm sure, as a team you can't turn the ball over, those types of things to get back in the game."

The Ravens need to quickly regroup against the Steelers, who have won three consecutive games and sit atop the AFC North. A loss could be devastating and have long-term effects on the franchise as far as the future of Harbaugh, Joe Flacco and several other aging veterans.

"We're getting ready for Pittsburgh," Harbaugh said. "Huge game coming up at our stadium. It means a lot."

NOTES:

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CB Marlon Humphrey (thigh) missed his second straight game Week 8 against the Panthers. He suffered the injury during practice almost two weeks ago. Humphrey has been the Ravens' top cornerback this season, and the team has struggled in his absence.

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OT Alex Lewis (neck) was back at practice last week but was ruled inactive against the Panthers in Week 8. He also did not play the prior game against the Saints after suffering a pinched nerve the previous week against the Titans in Week 6.

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RT James Hurst (back) missed his second consecutive game against the Panthers after being held out of practice the previous week. Harbaugh said Hurst has been dealing with the injury for a while and it has gotten steadily worse. The offensive line struggled in Hurst's absence, allowing two costly sacks and seven quarterback hits against the Panthers.

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LG Bradley Bozeman (calf) was ruled inactive against the Panthers after missing practice time the prior week. He got his first career start Week 7 against the Saints for the injured Alex Lewis. Bozeman, a rookie sixth-round pick from Alabama, had to leave that game in the fourth quarter with an injured left calf. Bozeman was able to finish the game, but the injury hampered him the following week.

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T Orlando Brown Jr. made his second career start against the Panthers in place of the injured James Hurst. The rookie was a third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft after earning All-American honors at Oklahoma in each of the last two seasons. He is also the son of the late Orlando Brown Sr., who played six years with the Ravens.

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OL Jermaine Eluemunor was promoted from the practice squad and was active against the Panthers in Week 9. He played 19 snaps and was solid in pass coverage, according to Harbaugh. Eluemunor was a fifth-round pick from Texas A&M in the 2017 NFL Draft.

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Sports News: Ravens looking to rise above mediocrity after embarrassing loss
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