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Harbaugh says Ravens 'can get so much better'

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Harbaugh says Ravens 'can get so much better'

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) The Baltimore Ravens are riding a three-game winning streak and getting significant contributions from some unlikely heroes.

Reserve cornerback Corey Graham helped the Ravens hold off Pittsburgh 13-10 on Sunday night.

Filling in for the injured Jimmy Smith, Graham had an interception and knocked a pass away in the end zone in the third quarter to help hold the Steelers to a field goal. Backup safety James Ihedigbo tallied a crucial sack that forced a punt in the fourth quarter.

Receiver Jacoby Jones, a free agent signing this offseason like Graham and Ihedigbo, returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. It was Jones' third return for a TD this season, having also run back two kickoffs for scores.

The Ravens (8-2) have received a great deal of help since returning to the football field after their Week 8 bye, which came one week after they were blown out by Houston 43-13. Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who went undrafted in 2009, is now leading the Ravens in tackles with 75. In the preseason, there were questions whether Ellerbe would even make the roster.

``The thing I'm most proud about is how hard they played, how physical they were, and how they kept stepping up in a close game,'' Ravens coach John Harbaugh said on Monday. ``It was a classic Pittsburgh game.''

The win gave Baltimore a two-game cushion in the AFC North. Pittsburgh, now at 6-4 for the year, will have a chance at lessening Baltimore's lead in two weeks as both teams will meet again in Baltimore.

But the Ravens are in control of the division, having beaten each AFC North opponent thus far.

``I'm happy right now, 8-2, can't complain,'' Jones said.

The Ravens have looked superb at home this season, averaging 36.8 points per game when they play in front of their home fans. On the road, it's been a different story. The Ravens offense has only scored an average of 16.6 points each outing, making it much more difficult to come away with victories.

But that's what the Ravens have done in three of their five road trips. Baltimore squeaked by the Chiefs 9-6 in Kansas City. The Ravens needed a late score to put Cleveland away 25-15 three weeks ago.

And then on Monday night, Baltimore needed a late stop to walk out of Pittsburgh with a win. There have been plenty of ugly outings on the road for this Baltimore group, though the two recent road wins against divisional opponents have only added to Baltimore's stranglehold on the AFC North.

``We can get so much better,'' Harbaugh said. ``The thing I love about this team is this team understands that. This team is ready to go to work. We're talking about tomorrow and how we're going to get better this week.''

For role players like Ihedigbo, who came untouched on a third down to sack Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich late in the ballgame, being able to contribute a bigger role on defense in recent weeks has been fulfilling.

``That's what I'm here for, whatever I can do to make an impact,'' Ihedigbo said. ``I'm glad I did and helped our team.''

Meanwhile, Harbaugh said Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta was not experiencing concussion-like symptoms following Baltimore's win over Pittsburgh. Pitta sustained a concussion in the first quarter of the game after catching a five yard pass. Pitta exited the game for further evaluation and did not return. He'll have to pass mandatory testing before being cleared to play.

Harbaugh also said it is possible that starting defensive end Pernell McPhee plays against San Diego next week. McPhee was held out of the Pittsburgh game with knee and thigh injuries.

``He's a good guy and he's working hard,'' Harbaugh said. ``There was no setback and he's on schedule - very soon. This week is a possibility. Last week, in all fairness, was not a possibility.''

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Ravens not counting on having LB C.J. Mosley vs. Broncos on Sunday

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Ravens not counting on having LB C.J. Mosley vs. Broncos on Sunday

BALTIMORE -- Coming off a long weekend following their first loss of the season, the Baltimore Ravens have implemented a contingency plan for moving forward without three-time Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley.

Mosley bruised his left knee Thursday night in a 34-23 defeat at Cincinnati. Although the fifth-year standout receives a few extra days to recover, it's unlikely he will ready for Sunday's game against unbeaten Denver.

"It isn't a structural issue. That's good news," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "We'll just see how that thing comes along and keep our fingers crossed."

Rookie linebacker Kenny Young and Patrick Onwuasor played the position after Mosley left in the first quarter. Though the Ravens tightened up defensively in the second half, they yielded touchdowns on four straight series after Mosley's departure.

"It definitely seemed like things were a little bit scrambled when you lose a guy like that," cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. "Just him being out there makes everything smoother."

To help fill the void, the Ravens on Monday signed Albert McClellan , who played six years for Baltimore before being cut on Sept. 1.

McClellan missed all of last year with a knee injury but has 90 games of NFL experience, all with the Ravens.

"Albert is a very good football player. He knows everything we do," Harbaugh said. "He gives us a lot on special teams and can play middle linebacker. I would say he kind of solidifies in there a little bit, having so many young players in the group."

To make room for McClellan, the Ravens placed cornerback Maurice Canady on injured reserve with a thigh injury. Harbaugh said it's not a season-ending injury, and it's possible that Canady could return later in the season.

Mosley led the Ravens last year with a career-high 132 tackles and is in charge of calling the plays on defense. That role has been handed to safety Eric Weddle.

Young appears in position to make his first NFL start. Selected out of UCLA in the fourth round of the NFL draft, the 23-year-old Young made a favorable impression before his making seven tackles last week in Cincinnati.

"He's going a great job. We're real happy with him," Harbaugh said. "He's very smart, very studious, very conscientious. I think his learning curb is steep."

After beating Buffalo 47-3 in the opener, the Ravens (1-1) took a huge step back last week. The Bengals led 28-7 in the second quarter and cruised to the finish.

Following a short week, the Ravens enjoyed a rare weekend that did not involve playing football.

"Yeah, that's valuable to have that, as far as recovery and things like that, and study," Harbaugh said.

It also provided the team some extra time to get over the Cincinnati game.

"You just can't beat yourself up too much because if you do, that just takes you in a downward path," Harbaugh said. "What it's going to boil down to in the end is, who's mentally tougher over the long haul? You've got to keep grinding."

There are plenty of unbeaten teams remaining, including the Broncos, but Harbaugh believes it's way too early to start identifying the best clubs in the league.

"Nobody in the NFL is a good football team yet," he said. "It remains to be seen who the good football teams are, and that's what we've got to try to become."

Harbaugh said tight end Hayden Hurst (foot) and defensive tackle Willie Henry (abdomen) won't practice this week.

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Ravens Week 2 Player of the Game: WR John Brown

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens Week 2 Player of the Game: WR John Brown

Coming off a strong Week 1 performance, the Ravens marched into Cincinnati for Week 2 and put up a dud.

The defense struggled immediately without C.J. Mosley, and Joe Flacco and the offense saw their share of unfortunate turnovers. 

While there was much to be concerned about in their 34-23 loss, one Raven that brought a high to a mainly low night was offseason addition John Brown.

Brown's night was highlighted by an insane 21-yard touchdown that put the Ravens within five in the fourth quarter. Prior to that, Flacco connected with the wide receiver for a 45-yard completion on third down. 'Smoke' also drew a 30-yard penalty that helped set up a touchdown, finishing his night with four catches for 92 yards.

The connection between Flacco and Brown was apparent throughout training camp, and in two games, the 28-year-old has become a trusted target. He currently leads the Ravens with 136 yards and two touchdowns and his 19.43-yard average is well above his fellow receivers. The speed he possess makes it difficult for defenses to keep up, and if Brown can stay healthy, he could be the consistent deep-threat the team's been looking for for years. 

 “I’m satisfied, and I did pretty good," Brown said after the Ravens' Week 1 win. "But it doesn’t stop right here.”

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