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Harbaugh says Ravens 'can get so much better'

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Harbaugh says Ravens 'can get so much better'

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) The Baltimore Ravens are riding a three-game winning streak and getting significant contributions from some unlikely heroes.

Reserve cornerback Corey Graham helped the Ravens hold off Pittsburgh 13-10 on Sunday night.

Filling in for the injured Jimmy Smith, Graham had an interception and knocked a pass away in the end zone in the third quarter to help hold the Steelers to a field goal. Backup safety James Ihedigbo tallied a crucial sack that forced a punt in the fourth quarter.

Receiver Jacoby Jones, a free agent signing this offseason like Graham and Ihedigbo, returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. It was Jones' third return for a TD this season, having also run back two kickoffs for scores.

The Ravens (8-2) have received a great deal of help since returning to the football field after their Week 8 bye, which came one week after they were blown out by Houston 43-13. Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who went undrafted in 2009, is now leading the Ravens in tackles with 75. In the preseason, there were questions whether Ellerbe would even make the roster.

``The thing I'm most proud about is how hard they played, how physical they were, and how they kept stepping up in a close game,'' Ravens coach John Harbaugh said on Monday. ``It was a classic Pittsburgh game.''

The win gave Baltimore a two-game cushion in the AFC North. Pittsburgh, now at 6-4 for the year, will have a chance at lessening Baltimore's lead in two weeks as both teams will meet again in Baltimore.

But the Ravens are in control of the division, having beaten each AFC North opponent thus far.

``I'm happy right now, 8-2, can't complain,'' Jones said.

The Ravens have looked superb at home this season, averaging 36.8 points per game when they play in front of their home fans. On the road, it's been a different story. The Ravens offense has only scored an average of 16.6 points each outing, making it much more difficult to come away with victories.

But that's what the Ravens have done in three of their five road trips. Baltimore squeaked by the Chiefs 9-6 in Kansas City. The Ravens needed a late score to put Cleveland away 25-15 three weeks ago.

And then on Monday night, Baltimore needed a late stop to walk out of Pittsburgh with a win. There have been plenty of ugly outings on the road for this Baltimore group, though the two recent road wins against divisional opponents have only added to Baltimore's stranglehold on the AFC North.

``We can get so much better,'' Harbaugh said. ``The thing I love about this team is this team understands that. This team is ready to go to work. We're talking about tomorrow and how we're going to get better this week.''

For role players like Ihedigbo, who came untouched on a third down to sack Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich late in the ballgame, being able to contribute a bigger role on defense in recent weeks has been fulfilling.

``That's what I'm here for, whatever I can do to make an impact,'' Ihedigbo said. ``I'm glad I did and helped our team.''

Meanwhile, Harbaugh said Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta was not experiencing concussion-like symptoms following Baltimore's win over Pittsburgh. Pitta sustained a concussion in the first quarter of the game after catching a five yard pass. Pitta exited the game for further evaluation and did not return. He'll have to pass mandatory testing before being cleared to play.

Harbaugh also said it is possible that starting defensive end Pernell McPhee plays against San Diego next week. McPhee was held out of the Pittsburgh game with knee and thigh injuries.

``He's a good guy and he's working hard,'' Harbaugh said. ``There was no setback and he's on schedule - very soon. This week is a possibility. Last week, in all fairness, was not a possibility.''

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CB Jimmy Smith expected to play, listed as questionable for Sunday

CB Jimmy Smith expected to play, listed as questionable for Sunday

OWINGS MILLS — Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, but it appears Smith will play after missing the past two games with a back problem. Smith practiced all week, and head coach John Harbaugh sounded optimistic following Friday’s practice.

“He looks good,” Harbaugh said. “We weren’t sure early in the week if he was going to be able to go, and he just responded well and he looks good. It will mean a lot. It will help our defense. We’ll be really, pretty much, full strength out there.”

Three Ravens were declared out for Sunday’s game — tight end Crockett Gillmore (thigh), left guard Alex Lewis (ankle) and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh).

Meanwhile, backup running back Buck Allen was doubtful due to a non-football issue.

“Buck had a personal issue come up,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the most I want to say about it right now. It’s just something that’s a personal issue right now that he’s dealing with. He may not be able to play in the game. We’re just going to have to see about that, where he’s at with it.”

MORE RAVENS: How Baltimore could still win AFC North

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Fantasy Football 2016: Best DFS plays for Week 13

Fantasy Football 2016: Best DFS plays for Week 13

Happy Friday. I'm participating weekly in FanDuel's Daily Fantasy Accuracy Cup (DFAC) along with other fantasy football thinkers. Here are four plays I like and plan on using for Week 13 along with some other options..

Colin Kaepernick, Quarterback, 49ers at Bears, $7,800 — Don't look now, but Kaepernick has suddenly morphed into DFS stud. Weird, I know, though the rush yards always boosted his appeal. Over the last four weeks on FanDuel, 23, 24, 19 and 34 points. Two of those performances were on the road, which is why the 49ers head this week. The Bears may not lay out a literal welcome mat, but the defense has allowed two touchdown passes in three straight games. Another mobile QB, Marcus Mariota, rushed for 46 yards against Chicago in Week 12. There's certainly downside risk taking any piece of the 49ers offense especially away from home, but there's a boom hope with Kaepernick at a reasonable cost.

Other quarterbacks: Philip Rivers ($8,200), Alex Smith ($7,000)

Jordan Howard, Running back, Bears vs. 49ers, $7,800 — Sticking with a game nobody outside of the Windy City and Bay Area wants to watch. On the season, San Francisco ranks last against fantasy running backs which is why the all-purpose Howard is interesting, even at a fairly high price (5th among RB) and despite no touchdowns over the last three weeks. Let's also note that the 49ers have been improved in two of the last three weeks, holding Arizona and Miami under 65 yards rushing. That said, Howard has at least 99 yards from scrimmage in each of the last four games. Great chance for big production as Chicago leans on him without Jay Cutler out.

Other running backs: David Johnson ($9,200), Devonta Freeman ($7,500), LeGarrette Blount ($6,600)

Larry Fitzgerald , Wide receiver, Cardinals vs. Redskins, $7,000 — Anybody who's watched Washington's defense of late knows slot receivers are something of a problem. Stefon Diggs, Randall Cobb and Cole Beasley have all thrived. Next up, Arizona's future Hall of Famer. While it's always possible the Redskins move Josh Norman inside, they simply haven't deployed the cornerback in that manner.

Other wide receivers: Julio Jones ($8,300), Brandin Cooks ($6,800), Tyreek Hill ($5,800)

Travis Kelce, Tight end, Chiefs vs. Falcons, $6,300 — Get a piece of what should be a high-scoring game in Week 13? Check. Pick a player who faces a bottom-5 defense against tight ends this season? Check. Snag one of the top remaining talents now that Rob Gronkowsk and Jordan Reed are hurt? Check. Kansas City likely will need to ramp up the pass attempts as Atlanta's offense can score. 

Other tight ends: Coby Fleener ($5,500), Vance McDonald ($4,900)

MORE FANTASY: Crucial fantasy football advice for your playoff push