Facing the Cleveland Browns in a much-anticipated home opener might be what the Baltimore Ravens need to move on from a horrible start to their season.
Following one more celebration of their second Super Bowl title, the Ravens hope to get back on track while trying for an 11th straight victory over the Browns on Sunday.
Though Baltimore will have some extra time to heal physically from its 49-27 loss at Denver on Sept. 5, whether any mental anguish lingers remains to be seen.
"The great thing about it is - and we all know this - it's week to week in this league, and it's going to be that way," coach John Harbaugh told the Ravens' official website. "What we need to do is take care of our business. If we take care of our business, we're going to be in the hunt and make it interesting, and if we don't, we're not."
Harbaugh's team allowed the most points in any game in the team's 18-year history. With longtime defensive mainstays Ray Lewis and Ed Reed gone, Baltimore could not stop Peyton Manning from tying an NFL record with seven touchdown passes and the Broncos from totaling 510 yards of offense.
"Our issue was the big plays," Harbaugh said. "You can't give up a screen for a touchdown. That's just not acceptable. You can't leave guys wide open. You can't miss tackles that turn into big plays. You can't turn guys loose in the red zone. You can't do it."
All the Ravens hope to do is learn and move on with confidence. Harbaugh believes they can do both.
"Obviously, we have to," Harbaugh said. "That kind of performance, in the end, is never going to be acceptable. We're capable of playing far better than that, and we have to."
There would appear to be no better team against which to bounce back then the Browns, who have been outscored 251-122 during the 10-game slide against the Ravens.
Throw in the raising of the Super Bowl banner in a home opener pushed back due to a scheduling conflict with the nearby home of the Baltimore Orioles, and it would seem the reigning champs have plenty in their favor.
"I'm pretty sure this game couldn't come fast enough," cornerback Corey Graham said.
Baltimore's Ray Rice hopes to get back on track after he was held to 36 yards and a TD on 12 carries last week. He's averaged 4.0 yards per carry, has one TD and has not rushed for more than 87 yards in five home games versus Cleveland.
With the Ravens playing catch-up, Joe Flacco went 34 of 62 for 362 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions against the Broncos.
He's thrown 12 TDs and five picks while going 10-0 against the Browns, but won't have receiver Jacoby Jones as an option after the Super Bowl star suffered a knee injury in the opener that is expected to keep him out at least four weeks.
It's also uncertain if tackle Michael Oher will play because of an injured ankle.
Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden came out relatively healthy despite being sacked six times and officially hit another 10 in last Sunday's 23-10 loss to Miami. He was intercepted three times in the first half.
Running back Trent Richardson was held to 47 yards on 13 carries.
Tight end Jordan Cameron made nine catches for 108 yards and a touchdown, but Cleveland went 1 for 14 on third down and totaled 291 yards in Rob Chudzinski's head coaching debut.
The Browns have failed to amass 300 yards in three of the last four contests.
"I knew we were a long ways away from where we wanted to be,' Richardson said. "We're still putting stuff together. We're glad we had this game right here. We took a loss, but at the same time we know what we need to work on and get better.'
Richardson had 47 yards on 14 carries in a 23-16 loss at Baltimore last season before finishing with 105 yards at home against the Ravens in November. Weeden completed 50.6 percent of his passes with three interceptions and no TDs in the two games.
Cleveland receiver Josh Gordon will serve the second of his two-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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