Ravens eager to end western swing with win vs. Raiders
The Baltimore Ravens are eager to make sure their season-opening western swing isn't a complete loss.
After losing their first game in Denver and defensive leader Terrell Suggs to a season-ending injury, the Ravens need to beat the Oakland Raiders today to come home with something to build on.
"We had that urgency. I kind of like the way we came here. We kind of turned the page quick," Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil said. "We're looking forward to Sunday and kind of getting this bad taste out of our mouth."
The Ravens (0-1) spent the week after losing to the Broncos practicing in the Bay Area instead of making an extra pair of cross-country flights. Along with avoiding the flights, the players have gotten time to bond without the distractions of home.
"Obviously, we don't do this too often, unless you're in some kind of bowl game or something like that," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "So, it's a little bit different. I think we're making the most of it and having fun with it and coming out here and getting our work."
Like the Ravens, the Raiders (0-1) are looking to bounce back from a season-opening loss. Oakland fell behind Cincinnati 33-0 before scoring two late touchdowns in a uninspiring debut for coach Jack Del Rio.
The lackluster performance dampened the optimism surrounding the coaching change and raised questions about whether the Raiders are headed for another down season after 12 straight years without a winning record.
But the players aren't abandoning ship.
"It's one game, guys," quarterback Derek Carr said. "Was it the way we wanted? Was it ugly? Yeah, it was ugly. It wasn't what we wanted. It wasn't what we looked like in practice."
Here are some other things to watch when the Ravens visit the Raiders:
The Ravens gained just 173 total yards and averaged an anemic 3 yards per play in the loss in Denver. Flacco was sacked twice and the offense didn't score a touchdown. Part of the problem was an inability to stretch the field. Flacco didn't have one throw more than 20 yards downfield.
"We need to take our shots," Flacco said. "If nothing else, at least let teams know that we're going to do that and have the confidence in ourselves in doing that."
The addition of Aldon Smith to a team with Khalil Mack was supposed to bolster Oakland's pass rush after a franchise-low 22 sacks last season. Instead, the Raiders generated little pressure and no sacks in the opener. Even though the four-man line was unable to get to the quarterback, the coaches did not send extra rushers. The Raiders were the only team in the league that failed to rush at least five players on a play, according to STATS. But Del Rio said blitzes could be in the plan this week.
"I'm not averse," he said. "Last week played out the way last week played out. I wouldn't draw too many conclusions based on that small sample last week."
As bad as Baltimore was offensively, the defense was top-notch. The Ravens sacked Peyton Manning four times and didn't allow an offensive touchdown. Jimmy Smith even scored a defensive touchdown when he returned an interception 24 yards.
The Raiders could be without both their starting safeties this week. Nate Allen will be sidelined for significant time after leaving last week's game with a knee injury. Charles Woodson hurt his shoulder in the opener and also could be sidelined. That could force Oakland to start Larry Asante and recently signed Taylor Mays. Asante has just two career starts since entering the league in 2010, and Mays has started four games the past four years.
With Suggs done for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, the Ravens signed Jason Babin to bolster their pass rush. Babin, who spent training camp with the New York Jets, has 64½ career sacks in 146 games.