Harbaugh Says Post-Bye Cleveland Game Is Must-Win
MORE PLAYERS TO BE LISTED ON INJURY REPORTS
By Joe Platania
For Baltimore natives and longtime residents, the names read like a roll call of destruction.
Agnes. Isabel. Fran. "Derecho." Sandy.
They, among others, are names of storms and hurricanes that have caused a great deal of pain, personal torment and loss among those who weren't prepared to the fullest.
The Ravens hope that Suggs, Reed, Ngata and other surnames can be sources of the same kind of downer for the Cleveland Browns next Sunday (1 p.m.; WJZ-TV; WIYY-FM) as they begin the post-bye portion of their schedule.
Those three players were cited not just because of their superstar status, but because their injuries are just some of the reasons the Ravens' defense is performing at a level not see since its sieve-like 1996 days.
The NFL fined the Ravens $20,000 for not listing Reed's torn labrum on the injury reports before the pre-bye loss in Houston, so predictably, many more of the team's bumps and bruises will appear this week.
"There's not going to be anybody that's not going to be on there," coach John Harbaugh said on a Monday conference call held in lieu of the normal press conference because of impending rain and wind from Sandy.
Baltimore has been historically excellent after its week off, having won four straight and 11 of 16 following the bye.
But even though lowly Cleveland is the opponent, the Browns gave the Ravens everything they could handle when they met during Week Four. The Browns had a chance to score a game-tying touchdown, but fell short and lost, 23-16, during a nationally televised Thursday night game.
Even though the Browns are 2-6, they have won two of their last three games -- both at home -- with the most recent of those a 7-6 win against a San Diego team that was coming off its bye.
The Ravens' 12-game AFC North winning streak is on the line -- it's the longest current skein in the league for any team in any division -- and their spotty road play has been a problem this year.
The Ravens have alternated between wins and losses during their last 12 road games. They are due for a win this time, which would be apropos because their last two-game road winning streak included a victory in Cleveland in 2010.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's a must-win game," Harbaugh said. "I'm standing by my words, I want to win that game."
Whether Harbaugh's intensity is borne out of his usual desire to be 1-0 every week or his early childhood days as a Cleveland Browns fan is unknown. What is true is that the Ravens' post-bye success has contained some of the team's sharper efforts of those respective seasons.
In fact, the Ravens' four post-bye wins under Harbaugh have included victories against Cleveland, Denver, Miami and Houston -- all of them at home -- by a combined score of 113-41.
As usual, the coach was understandably mum on tactical changes and game-plan specifics, but after having given players off since last Tuesday, he was his usual buoyant self.
"We think we have a good plan going forward," Harbaugh said. "We presented that to the guys a little bit this morning."
It was quite an eventful morning for the NFL's East Coast franchises, who mostly closed down their training facilities. But the Ravens got all but three players back to the Under Armour Performance Center for film study, treatments and workouts.
And, with baseball season having just officially ended, it was back to work.
"We're not looking to make any wholesale changes," Harbaugh said. "But we're always looking at the best batting order."
One that packs the same kind of wallop Agnes, Isabel and friends did, no doubt.
Posted Oct. 29, 2012