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Despite loss, Ravens still in control in AFC North

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Despite loss, Ravens still in control in AFC North

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) The Baltimore Ravens remain poised to reach the postseason as AFC North champions - just like last year - in spite of their disappointing and unexpected loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Baltimore (9-3) could have clinched a playoff berth and eliminated the Steelers from the division race with a victory on Sunday. Instead, the Ravens had their 15-game home winning streak snapped with a 23-20 defeat.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs left in the fourth quarter after hurting his upper right arm and could miss this Sunday's game against Washington. After sitting out the first six weeks of the season recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, Suggs has 19 tackles and two sacks in six games.

Suggs' arm injury ``needs to be evaluated as far as possibly coming back and playing this week or not,'' coach John Harbaugh said Monday.

Harbaugh doesn't believe it's a long-term injury.

``I think we are encouraged that it may not be,'' he said. ``We'll just have to see.''

The loss to Pittsburgh dropped the Ravens into a three-way tie with New England and Denver for the second-best record in the AFC behind Houston (11-1). Baltimore leads Pittsburgh (7-5) and Cincinnati (7-5) by two games in the AFC North with four to play.

``We still are on course,'' Harbaugh said. ``We have an opportunity to accomplish our first and foremost objective - I wouldn't say the most important objective, but the first objective on the agenda - which is to win the division. That's something that we need to do. We need to get to 11 (wins) to do that. That hasn't changed. And the idea of the high seed in the playoffs is still in front of us, too. So we're going to be working hard to get those things done.''

The loss to Pittsburgh hurt, but the pain was lessened by the fact that the Ravens remain in control of the AFC North.

``Obviously, there's a little bit of comfort in that,'' said quarterback Joe Flacco, who was sacked three times, lost a fumble and threw an interception.

Many of the things that Baltimore did right this season didn't happen on Sunday. The Ravens had a difficult time putting pressure on third-string quarterback Charlie Batch, converted only three of 11 third-down plays and, worst of all, blew a 20-13 fourth-quarter lead. Baltimore was 48-7 under Harbaugh when entering the fourth quarter with a lead, including 7-0 this year.

``We really lost the fourth quarter,'' Harbaugh said. ``That was the difference in the game. ... We got ahead but didn't stay ahead.''

Pittsburgh had the ball for 12 minutes, 14 seconds in the fourth quarter and limited the Ravens to one first down. So, it wasn't difficult for Harbaugh to explain why this game was different than the 11 that preceded it.

``We got some stops in other games and got some first downs in some other games,'' he said. ``We converted some third downs in some other games and didn't do that in this game. That's the biggest thing. We needed to get something going and we weren't able to do it.''

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said, ``It's just disappointing that we lost. I think we all felt that we could win this game, and we just didn't finish it at the end.''

The remainder of the schedule is not easy. After Sunday's game against the Redskins, Baltimore hosts Denver and the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants before concluding the regular season at Cincinnati.

``I know what this team is all about. A loss doesn't change who we are,'' wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. ``We'll still go out, we'll win the AFC North and be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs.''

Especially if they're playing at home, where the Ravens are 16-0 (including playoffs) since falling to Pittsburgh in December 2009.

``We're disappointed about having our first loss at home in two years,'' Harbaugh said. ``That's tough. That's not something that you want to see happen. We were proud of that streak. It will be our job to start a new streak. That will be our goal going forward.''

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Proposed NFL rule change would eliminate Ravens' intentional holding strategy

Proposed NFL rule change would eliminate Ravens' intentional holding strategy

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

It made everyone do a double-take, then it made perfect sense to non-Cincinnati and non-Pittsburgh fans.

Back in Week 12 when the Baltimore Ravens held off the Cincinnati Bengals 19-14, it wasn't a single touchdown that made national headlines. Rather it was a game ending safety that cut a seven-point deficit to only five. 

On the final play, numerous Ravens players held the opposing Bengals, who were setting up to receive punt, with 11 seconds left on the clock. Punter Sam Koch, just sat back, draining the clock before finally running out the back of the end zone with the clock at zero. 

SEE LINK FOR FULL RULE EXPLANATION

Thursday it was proposed to the NFL's Competition Committee to make plays like this illegal. 

While it may be considered unfair to some, making this new rule would simply add to an already expanding rule book and only be used for a select handful of plays a year, maybe. 

Eliminating cleverness of coaches that are well versed in the NFL rule book, should not be the approach of the of rule adaptations. There is no impact on player safety nor does it make the game 'more watchable' (like the extra-point rule).

Not only that, but the new proposed rule just leaves another set of loopholes for coaches to take advantage of at the end of a game. What if team trying to score on the last play commits two offensive penalties just to get another shot at the endzone?

But before making a massive overhaul to fix all of the loopholes in the NFL rule book, can we establish what a catch is first?

MORE RAVENS: Tony Jefferson used Madden to make free agency decision

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Ravens mock draft roundup: Mike Williams continues to pop up

Ravens mock draft roundup: Mike Williams continues to pop up

Just over a month away from the NFL Draft, mock drafts across sport media sites are beginning to narrow in on players that fit specifically into blaring holes on a team's roster.

As the first wave of free agency has come through, a majority of the top names at each position has been snatched up. While the Baltimore Ravens can still sign a handful of free agents on the open market, getting backup or a young star in a key position can be a the primary goal. 

Here's a look at who some of the various analysts have the Ravens taking with their No. 16 pick in the first round. The general consensus is help in the defensive secondary and at the wide receiver position.

DE Taco Charlton, Michigan, Ben Standig, CSN-Mid Atlantic

Standing: At some point the Ravens must find an edge pass rushing replacement for Terrell Suggs. Charlton might be better stopping the run than rushing the passer right now and yet he had nine sacks in 10 regular season games.  

SEE STANDIG'S FULL 2017 MOCK DRAFT

SS Jabrill Peppers, Michigan, Rob Rang, CBS Sports

Rang: With starting safety Matt Elam a pending free agent and Eric Weddle poised to enter his 11th NFL season, the Ravens may very well be looking for help in the secondary in the 2017 draft. Peppers starred as a linebacker in 2016 but possesses the agility and speed to handle coverage.

WR Mike Williams, Clemson, Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

Brugler: The Ravens have plenty of speed at receiver, but only average size. Williams has only average speed, but his body control, catch radius and overall size are where he shines.

WR John Ross, Washington, Bucky Brooks, NFL.com

Brooks: An electric playmaker with speed to burn would be a welcome addition to an offense that wants to play long ball with Joe Flacco at quarterback.

DE Charles Harris, Missouri, Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

Jeremiah: Harris is a very productive edge rusher who is plenty athletic enough to drop in coverage if needed.

WR Mike Williams, Clemson, Chris Burke, SI.com

Burke: Baltimore has two receivers, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, who can scorch defenses deep. They need a physical, intermediate threat. Check.

CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama, Peter Schragers, FOX Sports

Schragers: I seem to be a lot higher on Humphrey than other mock draft pundits. Oh well. I’ll ride with the star of the Alabama defensive backfield from last season. The son of NFL running back Bobby Humphrey, he was a stud at the well-known Hoover High and a prime recruit of Nick Saban’s. An opportunistic player who started for two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Humphrey forced three fumbles and intercepted two passes in 2016. Baltimore already has added Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson to its defensive backfield but might not be done.

RELATED: REDSKINS MOCK DRAFT ROUNDUP