Ravens pre­par­ing for chal­lenge of Thurs­day Night Foot­ball

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com

— The Bal­ti­more Ravens de­feated their archival on Sun­day for their first win in over a month, but had lit­tle time to cel­e­brate.

On Mon­day, one day af­ter they out­lasted the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers, 21-14, to snap a four-game los­ing streak, the Ravens were right back on the prac­tice field pre­par­ing for a re­match with the Cleve­land Browns before a na­tional au­di­ence on Thurs­day Night Foot­ball.

“We [had] a walk-through­style prac­tice. It’s a rou­tine that we de­vel­oped over the years for the Thurs­day night games,” Ravens head coach John Har­baugh said Mon­day. “A lot of work was done last week. A lot of work was done last night and this morn­ing. Our guys did a good job of fo­cus­ing on Cleve­land. We went right to Cleve­land. We didn’t spend any time on Pitts­burgh, as

OWINGS MILLS

far as re­view­ing it. We’re try­ing to get ready for Thurs­day night.”

It’s marked the start of an ab­nor­mal week for Ravens play­ers, who nor­mally spend Mon­days in meet­ings, have off Tues­days and prac­tice Wed­nes­days.

“The game-plan­ning is cer­tainly a chal­lenge, but you just do it. Both teams are in the same boat that way. You try to make good de­ci­sions based on the fact that the learn­ing curve is go­ing to be a lit­tle bit shorter,” Har­baugh said. “The same thing prob­a­bly goes for the phys­i­cal part of it. The re­cov­ery curve is shorter, so guys have to get to it and get right to the re­cov­ery. Then you ad­just what you do. We don’t prac­tice the same way as we would if we were play­ing on Sun­day.

“Both teams are fa­mil­iar with each other in the sense that we game-planned al­ready. We played each other al­ready. We play each other a lot. We know their per­son­nel. You’re not start­ing from ground zero as much as you are with a team that you don’t nor­mally play. That’s a big part of it on a short week.”

Both teams met in Week 2, with the Ravens over­com­ing a 20-0 deficit in the first quar­ter to win 25-20. While Bal­ti­more (4-4) will be look­ing to avoid a sim­i­lar slow start, the Browns, who have yet to win a game, will be aim­ing to take the lead and main­tain that ad­van­tage through the fi­nal whis­tle.

“I don’t know that it is mo­ti­va­tion. We have had leads on sev­eral teams and have not been able to fin­ish,” Cleve­land head coach Hue Jack­son said. “We un­der­stand that there is a team here that is – I’m talk­ing about our team – that comes pre­pared and comes to play. We know how to start games; we have not been able to fin­ish them yet. Our mo­ti­va­tion is we need a win. We are a 0-9 foot­ball team, and we want to get on the other side of the ledger.”

Har­baugh agreed, not­ing that the Browns’ record isn’t in­dica­tive of how well the team has been play­ing.

“It’s some­thing. It’s not what we dwell on. On paper, that’s how they’re eval­u­ated, but the tape tells a com­pletely dif­fer­ent story, and we watch the tape. We un­der­stand that this is a qual­ity foot­ball team that we’re deal­ing with,” Har­baugh said. “Games are lost for dif­fer­ent kinds of rea­sons. Usu­ally, it’s a play here and a play there, and some of those plays haven’t gone their way. It can go that way. We’ve been in the same sit­u­a­tion. We lost four in a row. It just was like that. That can hap­pen. If you watch the tape, they are mak­ing a lot of re­ally good plays. This is a very for­mi­da­ble chal­lenge.”

Fol­low Jor­dan Schatz on Twit­ter: @Jor­dan_Whig

MICHAEL CHRITTON/AKRON BEA­CON JOUR­NAL/TNS

Bal­ti­more Ravens’ Mike Wal­lace catches a pass for a touch­down in front of Cleve­land Browns’ Joe Haden dur­ing the sec­ond quar­ter of the teams’ game on Sept. 18 at FirstEn­ergy Sta­dium in Cleve­land. The Ravens won 25-20.

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