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Ravens HC John Harbaugh On Browns Loss: 'We've Got To Be A Lot Better Than That'

September 30, 2019
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was speaking specifically about Nick Chubb's 88-yard touchdown run, but he might as well have been speaking about his team in general: "We're better than that."

Harbaugh's frank assessment came as he met with the media Sept. 30 after the Ravens' second straight loss, a 40-25 setback to the Cleveland Browns a day earlier. 

For the third week in a row, Harbaugh was left to lament huge plays given up by his defense, but he stressed the importance of keeping "an even keel" with the season just one-quarter over.

"It's a week-to-week proposition, always has been and always will be," Harbaugh said. "You learn from that, and you learn to kind of keep an even keel and understand that you're going to play good games and you're going to play not good games. We played a not good game to say the least. ... We've got to be a lot better than that."

Still, there's no sugarcoating the fact that the Ravens have been historically bad defensively. For the first time in franchise history, the Ravens have allowed more than 500 yards of total offense in back-to-back games; the Browns totaled 530 yards a week after the Kansas City Chiefs piled up 503. 

After giving up pass plays of 65 and 59 yards in addition to the 88-yard touchdown run by Chubb, the Ravens have yielded eight plays of 40 yards or more, the most in the league.

The absence of veterans such as Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Eric Weddle -- leaders of the Ravens' No. 1-ranked defense last season -- has been glaring this season, and Harbaugh attributed some of the defensive woes to younger players "trying to do too much."

He also said a central problem has been overpursuit in zone coverage, but he sounded especially exasperated about giving up Chubb's 88-yard touchdown run after the Ravens had trimmed the Browns lead to 24-18 early in the fourth quarter.

"You can't give up big run plays," Harbaugh said. "An 88-yard run? After ... we're back to six? We win the game with a touchdown, and we're going to give up an 88-yard run? That's not Ravens football."

"We're better than that," he added. "Guys responsible for setting edges have to set edges. The guys responsible for fitting certain gaps ... on certain blocking schemes have to fit it and they have to fit it physically. And then they can't run through your secondary. Can't. Eighty-eight yard runs are as rare as it gets. So congrats to them. But the guy went untouched. That's not Raven football. We're not going to do it. Whatever it takes to get it fixed, we'll get it fixed."

If there's any consolation, it's that the Ravens remain tied for the division lead at 2-2. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are still searching for their first win as they square off Monday night to end Week 4. 

The Ravens travel to Heinz Field to face the Steelers Oct. 6, then return home Oct. 13 to host the Bengals in the last of three straight games against AFC North foes. The loss to the Browns has amplified each of those games. 

"It's not like college football where it's one loss and you're out," Harbaugh said. "We can control our own destiny, and it starts in Pittsburgh."

HARBAUGH DOWNPLAYS REPORT OF THOMAS-WILLIAMS FEUD:  After the game, NFL Network reported that safety Earl Thomas had a "heated discussion" in the training room with defensive lineman Brandon Williams, who missed the game with a knee injury that Harbaugh said had "flared up" late in the week. Asked about the reported spat, Harbaugh said, "Anything that happened in the locker room, I don't know. These are grown men. That's kind of our business."

HARBAUGH DEFENDS THOMAS: Thomas, the veteran safety who was signed to a $55 million contract this past offseason to be a new anchor and leader of the Ravens' defense, has drawn a healthy amount of criticism for the Ravens' struggles, and he appeared to pull up and stop pursuing Chubb on his 88-yard touchdown run. 

The optics were bad, and Thomas said after the game that he knew he wasn't going to catch Chubb and  didn't want to pull a hamstring, as he had once earlier in his career trying to chase down receiver DeAndre Hopkins. 

"Yeah, we want everybody to finish," Harbaugh said, "but if he felt some tightness in his hamstring right there, I'm glad he's out of the game healthy in all honesty. I want everybody running to the ball every play as much as they can, but it's pro football. You have to respect a pro athlete in that situation. ... I certainly don't a hamstring pull right there from our starting safety, so I take him at his word.

"You know why I say that?" Harbaugh continued. "Because I watched the game. I watched how hard he played. The guy was all over the field. He was all over the field."

Thomas led the Ravens with eight tackles against the Browns. Through four games he has 15 tackles and one interception. 

Follow Bo on Twitter @bsmolka

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox