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Despite loss, Ravens still in control in AFC North

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Despite loss, Ravens still in control in AFC North

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) The Baltimore Ravens remain poised to reach the postseason as AFC North champions - just like last year - in spite of their disappointing and unexpected loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Baltimore (9-3) could have clinched a playoff berth and eliminated the Steelers from the division race with a victory on Sunday. Instead, the Ravens had their 15-game home winning streak snapped with a 23-20 defeat.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs left in the fourth quarter after hurting his upper right arm and could miss this Sunday's game against Washington. After sitting out the first six weeks of the season recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, Suggs has 19 tackles and two sacks in six games.

Suggs' arm injury ``needs to be evaluated as far as possibly coming back and playing this week or not,'' coach John Harbaugh said Monday.

Harbaugh doesn't believe it's a long-term injury.

``I think we are encouraged that it may not be,'' he said. ``We'll just have to see.''

The loss to Pittsburgh dropped the Ravens into a three-way tie with New England and Denver for the second-best record in the AFC behind Houston (11-1). Baltimore leads Pittsburgh (7-5) and Cincinnati (7-5) by two games in the AFC North with four to play.

``We still are on course,'' Harbaugh said. ``We have an opportunity to accomplish our first and foremost objective - I wouldn't say the most important objective, but the first objective on the agenda - which is to win the division. That's something that we need to do. We need to get to 11 (wins) to do that. That hasn't changed. And the idea of the high seed in the playoffs is still in front of us, too. So we're going to be working hard to get those things done.''

The loss to Pittsburgh hurt, but the pain was lessened by the fact that the Ravens remain in control of the AFC North.

``Obviously, there's a little bit of comfort in that,'' said quarterback Joe Flacco, who was sacked three times, lost a fumble and threw an interception.

Many of the things that Baltimore did right this season didn't happen on Sunday. The Ravens had a difficult time putting pressure on third-string quarterback Charlie Batch, converted only three of 11 third-down plays and, worst of all, blew a 20-13 fourth-quarter lead. Baltimore was 48-7 under Harbaugh when entering the fourth quarter with a lead, including 7-0 this year.

``We really lost the fourth quarter,'' Harbaugh said. ``That was the difference in the game. ... We got ahead but didn't stay ahead.''

Pittsburgh had the ball for 12 minutes, 14 seconds in the fourth quarter and limited the Ravens to one first down. So, it wasn't difficult for Harbaugh to explain why this game was different than the 11 that preceded it.

``We got some stops in other games and got some first downs in some other games,'' he said. ``We converted some third downs in some other games and didn't do that in this game. That's the biggest thing. We needed to get something going and we weren't able to do it.''

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said, ``It's just disappointing that we lost. I think we all felt that we could win this game, and we just didn't finish it at the end.''

The remainder of the schedule is not easy. After Sunday's game against the Redskins, Baltimore hosts Denver and the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants before concluding the regular season at Cincinnati.

``I know what this team is all about. A loss doesn't change who we are,'' wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. ``We'll still go out, we'll win the AFC North and be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs.''

Especially if they're playing at home, where the Ravens are 16-0 (including playoffs) since falling to Pittsburgh in December 2009.

``We're disappointed about having our first loss at home in two years,'' Harbaugh said. ``That's tough. That's not something that you want to see happen. We were proud of that streak. It will be our job to start a new streak. That will be our goal going forward.''

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Ravens reopen training facility in Owings Mills without players and coaches

Ravens reopen training facility in Owings Mills without players and coaches

The Ravens reopened their training facility in Owings Mills, Maryland, on Tuesday under Phase I of the NFL’s process to reopen. This means that while the facility is open, players and coaches still cannot return.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan gave the green light last week that the Ravens could open their training facility and M&T Bank Stadium. 

According to the Ravens’ release, individuals returning to team facilities are mainly from the equipment crew, football video group, and the personnel department. The team is limited to a maximum of 75 people in the building at one time. Employees must wear masks and have their temperature checked before entering the building.

Phase II of the reopening process is to allow coaches, but still not players, into the facility — as long as the state allows for it. There has not been a date set for the beginning of Phase II.

For players and coaches to be in the facility at the same time, the Ravens indicated the target for the entire team to be together is for training camp, currently slated for the end of July. 

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Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin heading to Florida to work out with Lamar

Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin heading to Florida to work out with Lamar

The importance of Miles Boykin’s second season as a Raven cannot be overstated. 

After a strong offseason last year, one that included a standout training camp, Boykin went under the radar in his 2019 campaign. He posted just 13 catches for 198 yards in 16 games and caught three touchdown passes. He was targeted only 22 times all season. 

He was the team’s eighth leading receiver, in terms of catches and yards, and was fourth in targets at the receiver position.

Now, with two more rookies in the wide receiver room, the urgency Boykin is facing is palpable. 

“I just feel like I’m getting better as an all-around player,” Boykin said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. “I’m capable of a lot more, I’ll be able to play faster this year and have more chemistry with Lamar and just be able to go out there and play the game the way I want to play.”

He’ll travel to Florida next week to throw with Lamar Jackson, wide receiver Marquise Brown and a host of other Ravens, in place of offseason workouts that have been canceled. In the meantime, he’s trained with fellow second-year player in quarterback Trace McSorley, who is closer to home for Boykin -- meaning workouts are less of an ordeal to make happen. 

Chemistry for Boykin will be important, as the Ravens shipped tight end Hayden Hurst to the Falcons in the offseason and have said they could look to become more of a passing team in the future. 

But the Ravens also drafted wideouts Devin Duvernay and James Proche in April’s draft, which muddies the water as to where the increased targets can come from. 

That’s where Boykin thinks he can step in with his experience in the wide receiver group.

“When you’re younger, you worry about, ‘What do I have to do?’” Boykin said. “When you’re older, you know, ‘Why am I doing this?’ Like, 'this makes sense.' Everything starts to roll off of it. Now I’m worried about how to do things right, I’m not worried about what I need to do right. That’s part of film study that you don’t have time for during the season.”

Boykin added he won’t be shy about helping those rookie wide receivers, though, as now he’ll be one of the veterans in the room just a year removed from his rooke season.

“I would say film is going to be huge, especially during July,” Boykin said. “Even though I wasn’t participating in OTAs, I was still involved in meetings, I was doing everything else. I just couldn’t practice because I was injured. Even then, for rookies, it gets hard and stressful because you’re trying to pick up a whole new playbook. In July, you have a chance to relax a little bit, and I don’t think it’s going to be like that this year, especially for rookies.”

Despite everything, from Boykin’s confidence to knowledge of the offense, the threat of coronavirus has dampened expectations for everyone across the league in terms of what can be expected. 

That’s not Boykin’s concern, however. Whenever the 2020 season comes, if it does, he knows he’ll be ready. 

“At the end of the day, I’m still playing football -- if we have a season, obviously,” Boykin said. “It doesn’t matter where I’m playing it, who I’m playing it against, football is football. There’s going to be 11 people on each side of the ball and I just have to go out there and do my job. It doesn’t affect me as much.”

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