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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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Five observations from Day 2 of Ravens training camp

Five observations from Day 2 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Five observations from Day 2 of Ravens training camp:

RELATED: DAY 1 OBSERVATIONS

1. Wide receiver Michael Campanaro had an impressive day.

— Campanaro consistently got open making decisive moves and catching the ball cleanly, whether lined up wide or in the slot. Injuries have been the main stumbling block during Campanaro’s career. But there is no doubt he can make plays if he makes it to Week 1 healthy. Unless he suffers another injury, I think Campanaro is on the 53-man roster, especially since he can also return punts.

2. Joe Flacco showed no discomfort practicing on his surgically-repaired knee for a second straight day.

— Flacco throw the ball crisply, he moved well in the pocket, and he smiled when on the sideline. If Flacco was thinking at all about his knee, he disguised it well.

3.  Rookie cornerback Tavon Young is a player to watch.

— Young made several nice plays on the ball, including an interception in which he showed good technique and ball awareness. A fourth round pick from Temple, Young is making a bid to earn playing time as a nickel corner. Jerraud Powers missed his second straight practice (failed conditioning test), and Young took advantage of the extra reps. It will be interesting to learn more about Young’s tackling ability when the Ravens begin practicing in pads.

4. Rookie fourth-round pick Chris Moore looks like a potential playmaker.

— Ravens corners are having trouble keeping up with Moore when he goes deep, including Jimmy Smith, who saw Moore race by on his way to a deep reception. With left tackle Ronnie Stanley, linebacker Kamalei Correa, Young, and Moore, the Ravens have the potential for an instant-impact draft class.

5. There is no getting around Stanley’s importance as a rookie.

— Stanley needs to continue looking good when the Ravens go to pads Saturday, and whenever linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil return from PUP. A potential Ravens deal with veteran left tackle Jake Long fell through Friday. The Ravens will be counting on Stanley, not only to start but to play well.

 

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Long won't join Ravens, potential deal with LT falls through

Long won't join Ravens, potential deal with LT falls through

OWINGS MILLS – Veteran left tackle Jake Long won’t be joining the Ravens after all. A potential deal between Long and the Ravens fell through Friday, leaving Long a free agent according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, and confirmed by CSN.

The issue was Long’s right knee. He tore his ACL in both 2013 and 2014, leaving concern about how his knee would hold up if he returned to action. Long went to see Dr. James Andrews after taking a physical with the Ravens on Wednesday. According to a source, while Long was healthy enough to play, the Ravens were not comfortable being financially liable if Long’s knee failed to hold up.

The Ravens targeted Long as a potential backup for rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley. While Stanley has looked solid during practice, the Ravens have been searching for veteran insurance in case Stanley suffered an injury. Long is a former No. 1 overall pick (2008) and has more experience than James Hurst, who is currently the Ravens’ backup left tackle.

Now the Ravens have a roster spot available, which they may use to sign another offensive lineman, or to address depth at another position.

MORE RAVENS: FIVE OBSERVATIONS FROM DAY 1 OF RAVENS TRAINING CAMP

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Mike Wallace finally passes conditioning test; allowed to join Ravens at practice

Mike Wallace finally passes conditioning test; allowed to join Ravens at practice

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace was back on the practice field Friday, after passing his conditioning test on the second try.

Wallace missed Thursday’s practice after he failed the test on his first attempt. Joining him on the field Friday was wide receiver Dobson Collins, who also passed the test on his second attempt.

The Ravens hope Wallace will return to the form he had early in his career, when he was a consistent deep threat for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Wallace was a disappointment during stints with the Dolphins and Vikings, but Joe Flacco’s ability to throw the deep ball could help Wallace rejuvenate his career.

RELATED: RAVENS TIGHT END LEAVES CAMP WITH INJURY

In other practice news, cornerback Jerraud Powers missed practice for the second straight day and remained the only player yet to pass the conditioning test. Running back Kenneth Dixon, who sprained his left knee Thursday, also did not practice.  

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was hoping the team would stay disciplined during the first day of practice in pads on Saturday.

“The biggest message when you put the pads on is, ‘You’ve been in pads before,’’’ Harbaugh said. ‘“Don’t overreact. It’s going to be fine.’…I want to get right into executing and keep building on what we’ve done the last two days.

“We’re not going to be out here tackling too much – especially the veteran guys. Let’s just go play football.”