Ravens don't want spoiler's role
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens have no interest in playing the spoiler's role during the final four weeks of the regular season.
Baltimore begins a stretch of three straight home games Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, who are in the thick of the NFC wild-card race. The Ravens then host Kansas City and Pittsburgh, teams also chasing a playoff spot.
Though the Ravens (4-8) have only a mathematical chance of reaching the postseason, they have an opportunity to influence the playoff configuration. Not that they care.
"It's all about our team," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "We don't get involved in that kind of thinking — ever. I don't think that's much of a motivator for anybody."
Baltimore must win its final four games to avoid its first losing since Harbaugh took over in 2008. Heck, 8-8 just might be good enough for a playoff berth.
"Miracles do happen in terms of outcomes," Harbaugh said, "but I don't care about any of that — other than the fact that we're going to go out and win a football game this week."
The Ravens have lost several stars to injury this season, most notably quarterback Joe Flacco, receiver Steve Smith and linebacker Terrell Suggs. The decimation of the roster continued Monday when rookie tight end Nick Boyle received a four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.
Baltimore has remained competitive throughout. The Ravens' eight losses have come by a total of 34 points, including a defeat to Jacksonville in which the NFL later acknowledged that a blown call on the penultimate play led to the winning field goal.
Disappointment continues: The disappointment continued Sunday in a 15-13 loss to Miami in which a pair of deflected passes, a questionable spot on fourth down and an offensive pass interference call proved pivotal.
"The difference in that game is two crazy plays and a couple calls," Harbaugh said. "That's what it comes down to in this league. And it hasn't been going our way. All season long it hasn't gone our way. ... I'd love to see the data on that in terms of who's getting more calls against them that are wrong. That's not an excuse. That's just a fact."
The losses, each one more agonizing than the last, are becoming tougher to take.
"We played great all day except for those couple of plays," linebacker Elvis Dumervil said after the Miami game. "It's frustrating."
In spite of it all, Harbaugh remains convinced he's getting the maximum effort from the players he's got left.
"Everybody's handling a very difficult season without blinking, without backing up one inch," he said. "And that's what we're going to continue to do for the next four weeks."
The Ravens revealed Monday that 64-year-old defensive line coach Clarence Brooks has cancer. Now in his 11th year with the team, Brooks began treatment for esophageal cancer early this season.
"Nobody said a word about it to anyone because it's a family matter," Harbaugh said.
According to Harbaugh, Brooks received chemotherapy treatment and radiation three times a week, the last of it on Wednesday.
"It just puts it in perspective, the things that are important," Harbaugh said.
Notes: Flacco is scheduled to have surgery on his torn Achilles tendon Tuesday in Alabama by Dr. James Andrews. ... Harbaugh said the Ravens followed the NFL concussion protocol "to a T" after quarterback Matt Schaub received a blow to the head Sunday. He returned after being examined.