|With nothing to lose but another game, Ravens focus on Patriots|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 26 November 2007 13:29|
The playoffs are out of reach, reaching .500 is a long shot and there are few attainable personal goals left for those healthy enough to go full tilt.
It's a sad situation for a team that expected to be playing well into January. At this point, the Ravens' final significant game is their next one, at home against the unbeaten New England Patriots.
``Monday night against the best team - not even arguably - in the league right now,'' coach Brian Billick said Monday. ``Everybody wants to be the team that knocks off New England. That's a worthy goal. It will be a great opportunity for us in front of fans to show we're better than what we've shown.''
The Ravens (4-7) haven't given their fans much to cheer about during a five-game losing streak in which they've been outscored 143-72. In a 32-14 defeat at San Diego on Sunday, Baltimore managed only 210 yards and committed two turnovers.
Baltimore quarterbacks have lost 10 fumbles and the team has a minus-11 turnover differential. Billick and his coaching staff has tried various techniques designed to cut down on the giveaways, but nothing has worked.
``It's frustrating because there's always something you want to do more. You want to be able to fix it as a coach,'' he said. ``You can't always, except to try and bring the appropriate focus to it and give the players an opportunity to practice not doing it.''
Even if he could fix the turnover problem, Billick would be helpless to lessen the inordinate amount of injuries that have occurred on offense, defense and special teams. Linebacker Jarret Johnson fractured his thumb at San Diego, and Billick said Monday that quarterback Steve McNair (shoulder) won't be healthy enough to suit up against New England.
Those able to play, however, should be eager to take on the Patriots.
``The sad part is Monday night is probably our Super Bowl, and it's the 12th game of the season,'' cornerback Samari Rolle said.
Getting the Ravens motivated to play New England shouldn't be difficult. But what can Billick do to inspire them for Indianapolis, Miami, Seattle and Pittsburgh?
``I'm looking forward to the challenges we have ahead of us, and they are challenges,'' he said. ``There are times they seem overwhelming, but that's why I love this.''
Given a preference, Billick would have a chosen a season like the last one, when Baltimore went 13-3 and got a first-round bye in the playoffs. But this is what he's got, and he's going to make the best of it.
``This is not easy,'' he said. ``It's just something you deal with.''
The Ravens' swoon has made it easier for the team to cope with the possibility of losing offensive coordinator Rick Neuheisel, who is expected to be approached by colleges looking for a new head coach.
``Rick Neuheisel has been, and will make, an outstanding college coach,'' Billick declared. ``The college game needs coaches like Rick Neuheisel. ... I would be very surprised if a number of schools weren't interested in Rick Neuheisel, and we'll support that in every way.''
Billick said he that if Neuheisel gets a head coaching job, the Ravens would allow him to leave the team before the completion of the NFL season.