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49ers' Culliver apologizes for anti-gay remarks

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49ers' Culliver apologizes for anti-gay remarks

NEW ORLEANS (AP) San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver apologized Thursday for anti-gay comments he made to a comedian during Super Bowl media day, saying ``that's not what I feel in my heart.''

``I'm sorry if I offended anyone. They were very ugly comments,'' Culliver said during an hour-long media session. ``Hopefully I learn and grow from this experience and this situation.''

He said he would welcome a gay teammate to the 49ers, a reversal of his remarks to Artie Lange two days earlier during an interview at the Superdome.

``I treat everyone equal,'' Culliver said. ``That's not how I feel.''

He added that he realized his comments were especially offensive to many people in San Francisco and the Bay Area, which is home to a large gay community.

``I love San Francisco,'' Culliver said.

During the interview with Lange, Culliver responded to questions by saying he wouldn't welcome a gay player in the locker room. He also said the 49ers didn't have any gay players, and if they did those players should leave.

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh met privately with Culliver to discuss the remarks.

``I reject what he said,'' Harbaugh said. ``That's not something that reflects the way the organization feels, the way the rest of the players feel.''

The coach would not discuss if Culliver would face discipline from the team, such as a fine or loss of playing time.

``He pledged to grow from it,'' Harbaugh said.

The interview began with Lange asking Culliver about his sexual plans with women during Super Bowl week. Lange followed up with a question about whether Culliver would consider pursuing a gay man.

``I don't do the gay guys, man. I don't do that,'' Culliver said during the one-minute taped interview. ``Ain't got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff.''

Lange asked Culliver to reiterate his thoughts, to which the player said, ``It's true.'' He added he wouldn't welcome a gay teammate - no matter how talented.

``Nah. Can't be ... in the locker room, nah,'' he said. ``You've gotta come out 10 years later after that.''

The 24-year-old Culliver, a third-round draft pick in 2011 out of South Carolina, made 47 tackles with two interceptions and a forced fumble this season while starting six games for the NFC champion Niners (13-4-1).

He had his first career postseason interception in San Francisco's 28-24 win at Atlanta for the NFC title, which sent the 49ers to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995. They will face the AFC champion Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

The 49ers participate in the NFL's ``It Gets Better'' anti-bullying campaign. Three organizations working for LGBT inclusion in sports - Athlete Ally, You Can Play, and GLAAD - reacted to Culliver's remarks and later acknowledged his apology.

``Chris Culliver's comments were disrespectful, discriminatory and dangerous, particularly for the young people who look up to him,'' said Athlete Ally Executive Director Hudson Taylor. ``His words underscore the importance of the athlete ally movement and the key role that professional athletes play in shaping an athletic climate that affirms and includes gay and lesbian players.''

Calling Lange's questions ``real disrespectful,'' Culliver said he realized he was speaking to a comedian and not a journalist.

``That was pretty much in a joking manner,'' the player said. ``It's nothing about how I feel.''

Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who made headlines this season with his vocal support of a gay-marriage initiative in Maryland, said Culliver's comments to Lange were reflective of how many players in the NFL feel, even if they don't express it publicly. He hopes the 49ers cornerback will learn from this experience and become a positive role model in the quest for equality.

``You can't fight hate with hate,'' Ayanbadejo said. ``You've got to fight hate with love.''

Baltimore safety Bernard Pollard said Culliver should be allowed to express his views, even if some people found them offensive.

``The guy's entitled to his own opinion,'' said Pollard, who has acknowledged that he disagrees with Ayanbadejo's stand on gay marriage. ``I'm not going to sit here and knock him. I'm not going to sit here and judge him. It's freedom of speech. If you don't like it, don't listen to it.''

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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Ravens defense digs too deep a hole in 33-28 loss to Chiefs on the road

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Ravens defense digs too deep a hole in 33-28 loss to Chiefs on the road

The Ravens needed to hold the Chiefs to eight or less yards to get the ball back. 

Faced with a third-and-9 in their own territory, the Chiefs dialed up a screen pass to win the game. Instead of nine yards, they got 16. 

On a day when the defense had trouble getting off the field, it was only fitting the Ravens couldn’t get a stop when it mattered most in a 33-28 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

“That play is really kind of a play that everybody on the defense is really kind of involved in,” Tony Jefferson said. “So we say, ‘Who’s responsible for the screen? Everybody.’ Back to the drawing board, we’ll look at it and see the things we’ve got to fix.”

The Ravens defense allowed 503 yards of total offense, a number they didn’t hit all of last season. The longest play was an 83-yard touchdown from Patrick Mahomes to Mecole Hardman to put the Chiefs up 20-6 in the second quarter. 

Mahomes finished the day with 374 yards passing and three touchdowns. His 374 yards passing was a number Mahomes needed overtime to hit last season.

“That’s an explosive, very good offense,” Jefferson said. “Mahomes did a good job extending plays, as we knew.”

Baltimore’s defense allowed 23 points in the second quarter as it had trouble dealing with Kansas City’s vaunted passing attack. But a problem that came up unexpectedly was the run, as the Chiefs averaged 5.4 yards a carry. 

The Ravens trailed 23-6 at halftime, but cut the lead multiple times to a one-score game in the second half. But the 17-point deficit was far too much to overcome, especially with an offense like Kansas City’s. 

“I thought our guys fought like crazy,” coach John Harbaugh said. “If we get a little bit better, we’ll win games like this.”

The game took a bit of a turn in the second half, as the Ravens continually went for two-point conversions in an aggressive game plan. They missed all three. 

They also went two-for-three on fourth down conversions, in an effort to keep their offense on the field and keep Mahomes off it.

“Analytically, when you look at the numbers, it’s not even close,” Harbaugh said. “In terms of percentage of chances to win the game. We believe in our offense, we’re going to try and get as many first downs as we can.”

And while the defense improved in the second half and only allowed 10 points, the damage was done as the Ravens offense couldn’t climb out of the hole left by the big halftime deficit. 

Even the aggressiveness of the offense couldn’t make up for the early halftime deficit.  

“We talked about it going into the game, that our offense was going to take chances on fourth down and we were ready for it,” Jefferson said. “We totally agreed with it, because we don’t back down from anybody.”

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Stock up, stock down: Rating the Ravens after their five-point loss to the Chiefs

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Stock up, stock down: Rating the Ravens after their five-point loss to the Chiefs

In a monster AFC matchup on Sunday, the Ravens weren’t able to get enough offense and enough stops on defense to earn the win. 

The loss drops the Ravens to 2-1 ahead of the Browns matchup on Sunday.

Here are a few players whose stocks are up and down after the loss.

Stock down: Pass defense

The Ravens defense knew they had a challenge to face against Patrick Mahomes. It’s likely they won’t see one like him again. 

Mahomes threw for 374 yards on 27-of-37 passing and had three touchdowns passing. He led an offense that scored three touchdowns in the first half, the same number it scored against the Ravens last season. 

It wasn’t pretty for the pass defense, as a blown coverage led to an 83-yard score which gave the Chiefs all the momentum they needed. 

Three receivers (Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Darrel Williams) had five or more receptions.

“Some of them (deep pass plays) were well executed by them,” coach John Harbaugh said. “The one touchdown was just played wrong by a certain player, that happens. So that’s what happened.” 

Stock down: Lamar Jackson

Jackson had the first rough game of his 2019 season.

He finished just 22-of-43 and had 267 yards. He looked impressive on the Ravens first drive of the game and bought time with his legs in the pocket, but faltered as the game wore on. 

Jackson picked his game up in the fourth quarter, but was aided by two throws that can only be described as Hail Mary throws caught by Seth Roberts and Willie Snead. 

“We let our defense down, I feel,” Jackson said. “I had a lot of throws I should have made, I feel.”

Stock up: Nick Boyle

The first of two positives on the offense, Boyle was the team’s leading receiver with four receptions for 58 yards.

With Mark Andrews (three catches for 15 yards) hobbled with a foot injury, Boyle was Jackson’s most consistent target over the middle of the field.

When Andrews returns to full health, Boyle likely won’t see the volume of targets he saw today. But it was a nice day for the Delaware product.

Stock up: Mark Ingram

The Ravens made a commitment to the run game on the first drives of each half, and it showed as Ingram tied a Ravens record with three rushing TDs in a game. 

Ingram finished with 103 yards on 16 carries — a 6.4 yards per carry average — and was the game’s leading rusher.

“I think it speaks for itself, we ran the ball well,” Harbaugh said. “Offensive played excellent, played tremendous I thought.”

Stock down: Two-Point Plays

Woof. The Ravens had three two-point plays, including one that came from the one-yard line, and weren’t able to score on any of them. 

They went for two up 6-0, down 30-19 and 33-28. They made none of those. 

Still, despite the result, it may not have been the worst decision to go for two points...

Stock up: John Harbaugh’s decisions

Hang in there on this one. 

The Ravens first decision to go for two points was due to the fact that they had the ball at the Chiefs one-yard line and thought they could punch in a quick conversion. The second decision was likely to cut the lead to nine, so that a touchdown and a field goal would win the game instead of merely tie the game. The final decision was to cut the lead to a field goal. 

Harbaugh said he doesn’t regret any of the decisions. 

“I don’t think we’re setting any tone, there’s no tone to be set,” Harbaugh said. “You’re trying to do everything you can to win the game. And when you get the ball at the one-yard line, it makes a lot of sense to go for two. Unless you’re playing scared, which we aren’t going to do.”

Stock down: Run defense

The Ravens allowed 140 yards rushing (5.4 yards a carry) to a host of Chiefs running backs. Williams and LeSean McCoy had 6.9 and 6.8 yards per carry to lead the team. 

Against Mahomes, knowing his deadliness passing the ball, the run defense had to be as sharp as ever. Unfortunately for the Ravens, it wasn’t as the Ravens could slow down the Chiefs ariel and ground attack.

Stock down: Linebackers

Patrick Onwuasor had a pass go inches above his hands in a metaphor for the entire afternoon. 

He, Chris Board and Kenny Young didn’t have their best days as the Chiefs were able to run the ball well all afternoon. 

Mahomes was able to fling the ball out to the flats early in the game, as his running backs ran free in the flat all afternoon long. 

Overall, the Ravens defense just had an afternoon to forget. 

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