OWINGS MILLS, MD. (AP) - The Baltimore Ravens didn’t fare well during a shortened work week, so they decided to take advantage of the nine-day break on the back end of their disappointing visit to Atlanta.
After Baltimore lost to the Falcons on Thursday night, the coaching staff assembled to determine what must be done for the team to perform better over the final seven weeks of the season.
“There are a lot of specific things in each phase at each position group,” coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “Those are the things we spent a long time Friday as a staff going through with a fine-tooth comb. The position coaches and the coordinators were on top of it, but we went through it all as a staff and kind of diagnosed what all those things are.”
It was the type of brainstorming session that usually occurs only during an extended break.
“We had three days to do some things we normally don’t do _ kind of a mini-bye week,” Harbaugh said.
The coaches shared their findings with the players before a rare Monday practice. According to Harbaugh, the information did not come as a surprise to the team.
“They’re very introspective. They know their issues,” he said. “We kind of work it out together. We work on scheme, we work on technique.”
Despite the last-minute loss in Atlanta, Baltimore (6-3) is tied for first place with Pittsburgh in the AFC North. The schedule appears favorable, too: After Sunday’s road game against woeful Carolina (1-8), the Ravens play four of their final six games at home, where they have won seven straight and 14 of 17.
“I’d rather be 9-0,” Harbaugh said. “Are we happy with 6-3? No. But that’s where we are. We are on top of the division and we have our fate in our own hands.”
But Harbaugh knows the road to the playoffs would have been just a little easier had the Ravens not allowed the Falcons to score the winning touchdown on an 80-yard drive that took less than a minute to complete.
“Every time you don’t win in this league it’s a missed opportunity,” Harbaugh said. “If we’d have won the game on Thursday night it would have been great for us. We’d have been tied for the best record in the National Football League. We didn’t, so we aren’t.”
Harbaugh didn’t give specifics on the shortcomings the coaching staff discussed after the loss. But a shaky secondary, a suspect pass rush and a slow-starting offense were probably among the topics of conversation.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan went 32 for 50 for 316 yards and three touchdowns. Roddy White had 12 catches for 138 yards, alternately burning cornerbacks Lardarius Webb, Fabian Washington, Josh Wilson and Chris Carr.
And, although Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes for Baltimore, he had 31 yards passing at halftime and the Ravens didn’t get their first score until the third quarter.
“We’ve got to get better,” Harbaugh said. “We’re a good football team right now. If we get better this week to next week to the week after, we’re going to be a force to contend with in this race. We’ve got to improve, and we’re very determined to do that.”
Harbaugh said wide receiver Derrick Mason practiced Monday despite hurting his right pinkie in Atlanta.
“He’s got it wrapped in a splint of some kind,” the coach said. “It looks like it’s swollen a little bit, but he should be fine for Sunday.”
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