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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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Baltimore Ravens Week 6 awards after shutout win over Titans

Baltimore Ravens Week 6 awards after shutout win over Titans

The Baltimore Ravens went into the Tennessee Titans' home and completely robbed them in a 21-0 shutout win.

Here are the players and plays that stood out from the afternoon.

PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME: Ravens Defense

The Ravens defense had a historic afternoon recording a franchise-record 11 sacks. Yup, you read that right. 11 sacks.

Za'Darius Smith led the way with three, followed by Patrick Onwuasor with two and Matthew Judon, Terrell Suggs, Tony Jefferson, Kenny Young, Anthony Levine Sr. and Chris Wormley with one apiece. The 11 sacks tied for the second most by a team in league history and the most in a game since 2012.  It was so historic, the Ravens changed their Twitter name to included 11 S's. 

But that wasn't the only impressive part of the Ravens' afternoon. Marcus Mariota was limited to 10 completions and the defense allowed just 51 passing yards  —  the fewest in franchise history  — and 55 rushing yards. The Titans finished the afternoon 1-for-10 on third down as well.

With the shutout, the Ravens defense cemented its place as one of the NFL's most elite units in 2018. A win that must have been extra sweet after a 12-9 overtime loss to the Browns the week prior and with former defensive coordinator Dean Pees staring back from the opposite sideline. The Ravens remain the only NFL team to not allow a second-half touchdown this season. 

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE GAME: Michael Crabtree

After dropping what would have been the game-winning touchdown Week 5 against the Browns, Michael Crabtree said his priority this week was to get back into the lab and correct his mistakes. Out the gate, the veteran receiver stayed true to his word finishing the Ravens' first drive catching three passes for 52 yards and one touchdown. Earlier in the week, Joe Flacco had faith his receiver would get over the hump of six drops in five games and was willing to stand by him until it happened.

"Besides just trying to give him the confidence that, you know, I'm still going his way when he calls for it and I still believe that it's going to be the difference...it's something that he'll definitely get over," Flacco said.

The patience worked as Crabtree finished the day with six receptions for 93 yards and one touchdown leading all Ravens receivers.

But more importantly, the relationship between Crabtree and Flacco continues to grow.

"That’s trust. That’s what you need in football, you know," Crabtree said postgame. "Quarterback, receiver relationship. It’s only going to get better. It’s all about how much time you put in, how much work you put in. I’m new; this is my first year here so I got to do what I got to do."

STAT OF THE GAME: Flacco makes his way into the history books

With 25 completions Sunday against the Titans, Flacco became the third different quarterback in NFL history to complete 25 or more passes in nine consecutive games, per the NFL's communication department. Drew Brees sits atop the list with 11 and 10 consecutive games followed by Peyton Manning with nine. Flacco finished the 21-0 win 25-for-37 with 238 yards, one touchdown and one interception. 

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Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks against former defensive coordinator

Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks against former defensive coordinator

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Baltimore Ravens swarmed around their new defensive coordinator, Don "Wink" Martindale, celebrating after a game that will go down in the record books.

Getting 11 sacks along with a shutout against the man Martindale replaced makes this mark even sweeter.

Za'Darius Smith had a career-high three sacks as the Ravens piled up the franchise-record Sunday in routing the Tennessee Titans 21-0 in the rain, just missing the NFL record shared by five teams by one.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh called it an "historic defensive performance."

The Ravens (4-2) smothered Tennessee, allowing just 106 yards of offense while they turned Marcus Mariota's day into the worst of his NFL career. Eight different Ravens sacked Mariota, and four got their first sack this season at his expense. The Titans never got closer to the end zone than the Ravens 37, each time pushed back with yet another sack.

"We want to be something special out there," Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon said. "For Wink, it's great to go against his predecessor, and he stepped up and we came through and pitched a shutout. You don't ever talk about unicorns while you're doing it, but we got it done. We got it done for him, and we celebrated after."

Martindale was promoted to defensive coordinator when Dean Pees retired after last season. His retirement lasted less than a month with first-year coach Mike Vrabel luring Pees to join him as the Titans' defensive coordinator.

Asked about Pees, Smith only said that the coordinator told him at his pro day at Kentucky that the linebacker would be a Raven.

"Love him to death, but hey, we won tonight, so we're going to leave it at that," Smith said with a smile.

The Titans (3-3) had not been shut out at home since the franchise relocated to Tennessee.

"That's the headline: The `Tennessee Titans didn't do nearly enough on all levels to win the football game,'" Vrabel said. "Or even make it competitive."

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