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Browns' safety Ward upset over fine for hit

Browns' safety Ward upset over fine for hit

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Browns safety T.J. Ward opened the letter from the NFL and quickly scanned it for one important detail: the price of his punishment.

Once he located that number, he moved on.

``I didn't want it to ruin the rest of my day,'' he said.

Ward was fined $25,000 for an illegal hit he delivered on Sunday against Dallas wide receiver Kevin Ogletree, a penalty the hard-hitting defensive back is appealing and one he insists was well within the league's rules on helmet-to-helmet contact. Ward said replays conclusively show he did not touch any part of Ogletree's head.

``I think it was completely legal,'' Ward said. ``I aimed for his chest. I hit him in his chest. He was falling forward. No part of my helmet hit his helmet. No part of my shoulder pad hit his helmet. If it did hit at any part, it was probably the aftereffect or the end of the hit. I think it was just a blown call and a blown punishment.''

Ward, who was fined $15,000 in 2010 for a nasty hit on Cincinnati wide receiver Jordan Shipley, was called for unnecessary roughness for the shot on Ogletree. The 15-yard personal foul aided the Cowboys' drive that set up a game-tying field goal in the closing seconds of regulation. Dallas went on to win 23-20 in overtime.

Ogletree sustained a concussion and has been ruled out of Thursday's game against Washington. Browns cornerback Buster Skrine also suffered a concussion during the play when he collided with Ogletree just after Ward delivered his blow. Skrine did not practice and Browns coach Pat Shurmur said the second-year player ``is going through the (concussion) process.''

Ward was adamant he did nothing wrong. He said the crackdown on hits to the head is making it tough for him - or any defensive player - to be aggressive.

``It's ridiculous,'' he said. ``I could see if I came under him, like the Shipley hit. By the rules, I deserved that fine. I hit him under his helmet, under his face mask. This one, not at all. I hit him in his chest. Freeze frame, you can see the pictures and everything, it's in his chest. My head is completely to the side. It's almost like he's over my shoulder.''

Ward's fine came one day after Baltimore safety Ed Reed's one-game suspension for several helmet-to-helmet hits was reduced to a $50,000 fine.

Reed had been suspended one game without pay for his third violation in three seasons against defenseless players. On Sunday night, Reed drilled Pittsburgh wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Ward was also fined for being a repeat offender, which he finds illogical.

``I could see if it was a repeat offense in the same year, that makes sense,'' he said. ``But repeat offense from three years ago? C'mon, man.''

Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron defended Ward, who was flagged in a Nov. 4 game for striking Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in the head. He was not fined for that hit. Jauron said he won't instruct Ward to play any differently, but he said it is becoming increasingly difficult to coach players on what's acceptable.

``I think just keep doing what he's doing. I saw the replays multiple times and I didn't see any head-to-head contact on that play,'' Jauron said. ``I don't know if anybody else did. I don't know what you tell him. They have to figure it out. I don't know what you tell the defensive player today.''

Ward believes Commissioner Roger Goodell and league officials are taking the correct steps in trying to minimize hits to the head in order to improve player safety.

However, he believes the rules changes have given offensive players an unfair advantage and that defenders are being unfairly judged on plays where split-second decisions are made.

``I think the quarterbacks are just as responsible as us,'' he said. ``They throw the balls, they try to fit them into tight spots and we have to react. If you look at it, defensive players are fined way more than offensive players. We're put in the worst predicaments. We can't hit them. We can't grab them. We can't do anything. It's hard to play football and it's very hard to play defense.''

Ward intended to hit Ogletree low, knowing that any contact near the head could be penalized.

``I aimed at a certain spot and he continued to fall,'' he said. ``He fell right into me. It was almost a protection of myself. I just turned my shoulder. I didn't really even explode into him. It's a bind. I could see if I was running from the middle of the field and he was running a slant or something and I just hit him underneath his chin, but that wasn't the case at all.''

Ward doesn't think he's a marked man, but conceded his reputation as a big hitter may influence calls. He said some officiating crews seem more inclined to call penalties for high hits. He watched Sunday's Baltimore-Pittsburgh game and felt there were similar shots to the one he laid on Ogletree that weren't whistled.

Ward said Goodell's push to minimize head hits is noble, but he doesn't think it's making much of a difference in an inherently violent sport.

``The funny thing is, it won't change it,'' he said. ``Things are going to happen. The next thing is you're going to see guys with blown out knees because they're going to start to get hit low and before you know it, that's going to be illegal and we'll start getting fined for that. You can't hit quarterbacks below the knee. I think it's taking away from the game.''

NOTES: Browns CB Joe Haden returned to practice after missing last week's game with an oblique injury. Shurmur hopes to have Haden back for Sunday's game against the Steelers, who will start 37-year-old quarterback Charlie Batch. ... CB Dimitri Patterson did not practice. He had hoped to test an ankle injury that has sidelined him for five games. ... Undrafted special teamer Johnson Bademosi was picked to be the fourth captain for this week's game. Because of injuries, he took snaps at cornerback for the first time against the Cowboys.

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Ravens vs. Vikings: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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Ravens vs. Vikings: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Like much of the season thus far, the Ravens' offense struggled Sunday against an also struggling Bears.

It seemed as if their offense was playing in slow motion for part of their 27-24 OT loss.

Joe Flacco went 24 for 41 for only 180 yards and threw two interceptions. 

The Ravens had a shot at getting the win but couldn't capitalize on two special teams plays that helped them force the game into OT, leaving many questions about the state of the Ravens' offense.

RELATED: WEEK 6 NFL POWER RANKINGS

The team hasn't had much luck in presumably easy matchups, and now they are headed to Minnesota to take on the 4-2 Vikings.

The Vikings are coming off a 23-10 win against the Packers where quarterback Case Keenum threw for 239 yards and one touchdown. 

Star running back Dalvin Cook tore his ACL in Week 4 against the Lions and is out for the rest of the season, causing the team to lean on Latavius Murrary and Jerick McKinnon. 

Against the Packers, McKinnon rushed for 69 yards and one touchdown.

Something the Ravens and Vikings have in common is a surplus of injuries. 

Vikings starting quarterback Sam Bradford is still dealing with an aggravated knee injury and isn't expected to make his return Sunday against the Ravens.

Ravens running back Terrance West suffered a calf injury Week 5 against the Raiders and did not play against the Bears in Week 6. Tight end Maxx Williams hurt his left ankle in the second quarter of Sunday's game, as well as wide receiver Breshad Perriman who suffered a concussion. Both plays caused a turnover.

The Ravens lead the series 3-2 and haven't faced the Vikings since 2013.

Here's everything you need to know to watch Ravens, Vikings. 

Week 7 Ravens vs. Vikings Game Info:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Minnesota Vikings

What: Week 7 NFL regular season 

When: 1:00 p.m.. ET, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017

Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN

TV Channel: CBS

Live Stream: NFL Game PassCBS All Access

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 

Point Spread: Minnesota, -5.5

Over/Under: 40

Weather: 63 degrees, partly cloudy

BALTIMORE RAVENS 2017 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1 (Sun, Sept. 10): 20-0  at Cincinnati Bengals (W)

Week 2 (Sun, Sept. 17): 24-10 vs. Cleveland Browns (W)

Week 3 (Sun, Sept. 24): 44-7 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (in London) (L)

Week 4 (Sun, Oct. 1): vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 5 (Sun, Oct. 8): at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m. (W)

Week 6 (Sun, Oct. 15): vs Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 7 (Sun, Oct. 22): at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m.

Week 8 (Thur, Oct. 26): vs. Miami Dolphins, 8:25 p.m.

Week 9 (Sun, Nov. 5): at Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m.

Week 10 (Sun, Nov. 12): BYE week

Week 11 (Sun, Nov. 19): at Green Bay Packers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12 (Mon, Nov. 27): vs. Houston Texans, 8:30 p.m.

Week 13 (Sun, Dec. 3): vs. Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: (Sun, Dec. 10): at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:30 p.m.

Week 15: (Sun, Dec. 17): at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: (Sat, Dec. 23): vs Indianapolis Colts, 4:30 p.m.

Week 17: (Sun, Dec. 31): vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m.

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Ravens lose in OT after offensive struggles haunt team once again

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Ravens lose in OT after offensive struggles haunt team once again

BALTIMORE -- When the Chicago Bears weigh the good and bad facets of their performance against the Baltimore Ravens, it's likely they will come up with this conclusion:

Who cares? We won.

After blowing a 14-point lead, allowing two long kick returns and committing two turnovers, the Bears used a 40-yard field goal by Connor Barth in overtime to secure a 27-24 victory Sunday.

"You got to be able to take whatever situation you get and make something out of it," defensive end Akiem Hicks said. "I wanted to get a good W, go home and relax. The coming down to the wire thing is not my favorite style, but . however you get it, you just got to appreciate it."

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Jordan Howard ran for 167 yards, including a 53-yarder that set up the game-winning score for the Bears (2-4), whose two wins this season have come in overtime.

Howard's long run in OT put Chicago at the Baltimore 40. After rookie Mitchell Trubisky completed an 18-yard pass to Kendall Wright, Barth delivered the decisive kick.

"It wasn't always perfect -- it seldom is -- but we're just happy to get out of here with a win," Bears coach John Fox said.

Making his first career start on the road, Trubisky directed a conservative game plan that leaned heavily on the run. The first-round draft pick completed 8 of 16 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.

"We took what the defense gave us," the rookie said. "The run game was working, so let's keep pounding the rock."

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Howard had 36 carries and the Bears gained 231 yards on 54 attempts.

"Whatever it takes to win," Fox stressed. "This week, we had to run the ball -- and we did."

Baltimore (3-3) trailed 17-3 in the third quarter and 24-16 late in regulation before capitalizing on special teams play to get back in the game.

Bobby Rainey took a kickoff 96 yards for a score to begin the comeback and Michael Campanaro brought back a punt 77 yards for a touchdown with 1:37 remaining. The 2-point conversion was successful , setting up overtime.

"Those two special teams touchdowns were huge," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

The Ravens weren't the only ones to capitalize on big plays. Chicago used a halfback pass from Tarik Cohen to Zach Miller for a first-half score, and Adrian Amos returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown for a 24-13 lead with 5:08 left.

Baltimore was in position for the go-ahead score when Amos got his first career interception on a pass that bounced off the chest of receiver Chris Moore, who was covered tightly by Kyle Fuller.

Chicago forced three turnovers and frustrated quarterback Joe Flacco throughout the afternoon. Operating without injured receivers Jeremy Maclin (inactive) and Breshad Perriman (second-quarter concussion), Flacco went 24 for 41 for 180 yards with two interceptions.

Trubisky put Chicago ahead 17-3 in the third quarter with an on-the-run, 27-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dion Sims, who outfought Tony Jefferson for the ball in the end zone.

That put the Ravens in a precarious position, especially with a struggling offense.

Rainey alleviated the pressure by taking the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. After being tripped by a teammate, Rainey popped to his feet, broke right and went the distance.

Campanaro did his part later, but it wasn't enough.

"Sometimes your special teams kick in and score two touchdowns, which is great," tight end Benjamin Watson said. "But Chicago did a better job of closing than we did."

The Ravens were coming off a 30-17 win in Oakland in which they did not commit a turnover, didn't allow a sack and were penalized only once.

In this one, Baltimore gave the ball away twice, permitted two sacks and was flagged five times -- in the first half.