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Ravens Team Report: Needing a Miracle
Baltimore Ravens Week 17 Team Report
(Sports Network) - Amazingly enough, the Ravens still have a paper thin chance
at qualifying for the postseason despite their sub-.500 record.
Baltimore would need a relative miracle to get to the playoffs, as it must win
and hope that New England, the New York Jets, Cleveland, Denver, Kansas City
and San Diego falter. The Ravens understand the unlikely scenario, but they
feel that anything is possible in the wild AFC.
"Our priorities are always to make the playoffs," Ravens coach Brian Billick
said. "We’re still in a playoff chase. I know the moons have to go into
alignment. The Dow has to go above 10,000. There’s a lot of things that have
to happen, but we’re playing the last game of the season with, however remote,
a playoff chance."
Baltimore came up short, 14-13, in a crucial contest against Cleveland last
week mostly due to the inability of the offense to put points on the board. QB
Jeff Blake couldn't get things going in the loss, completing just 16-of-28
passes for 143 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Despite the lack of
impressive numbers, Billick was happy with Blake's play.
"I think he [Blake] played very well. In the first half, he was what? 10 for
12? He was very efficient and he has been very careful with the ball," said
Billick. "He orchestrated a good game Sunday and has played very well the last
two games in particular, in under pressure situations."
Blake's overall play down the stretch has been solid, as he has thrown for
seven touchdowns and just three interceptions over the last four games. The
veteran hasn't had much help in the receiving corps and that is reflected in
the Ravens' total pass numbers (169.3 ypg, 15th-AFC).
Essentially, the Ravens' only consistent pass catching threat this season has
been All-Pro TE Todd Heap, who has grabbed 61 balls for 690 yards and five
scores this season. Heap led the way in the receiving category against versus
Cleveland, hauling in seven balls for 61 yards.
A season-ending injury to top wideout Brandon Stokley has catapulted rookie
Randy Hymes out of Grambling into the starting lineup. Hymes had a career-high
three catches for 36 yards last week versus Cleveland. Billick is comfortable
with Hymes in the starting rotation.
"As much as you can be with a young player. As I said, with Randy, every
experience is a new one. He’s going to do something that may cost us at some
point, but he’s going to learn from it," said Billick. "And he’s only going to
learn from that by being in the game. We’re going to know more about Randy
Hymes going into training camp, which will be a huge plus for us."
Even more pressure has been placed on WR Travis Taylor's shoulders. Taylor,
who has never quite lived up to expectations, pulled down three catches for 39
yards and a touchdown last week.
The Ravens must make full use of RB Jamal Lewis this week to keep the Steelers
from blitzing on every down. An effective running game will curtail
Pittsburgh's blitz package and force it to keep its defenders at home to try
to stop Lewis. Last week, Lewis posted 100 yards on 21 carries (4.8 ypc)
COMING UP: This is the season finale.
12/27 11:39:00 ET
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