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Baltimore Ravens

Stadium: M&T Bank Stadium | Coach: John Harbaugh
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense12th126.2 (8th)238.7 (13th)
Defense8th88.2 (4th)248.7 (23rd)

Ravens report: Inside slant

The Sports Xchange
 
Inside slant · Notes, quotes · Strategy and personnel
 

The Ravens' locker room is split on whether the Patriots will use last season's 33-14 postseason rout as motivation.

"Anytime you play a playoff game at home and you lose, that's going to leave a sour taste in your mouth," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "I'm sure when they saw us on their schedule, they saw red, and they're going to come at us. But we expect nothing less, especially from the New England Patriots. So we definitely look forward to that opportunity. If there's going to be a fight at 1 o'clock, we'll see them there."

Many of the Patriots won't be seeking revenge because they weren't a part of that ambush, when the Ravens jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first quarter.

The Patriots currently have 32 players who were on their 53-man playoff roster. That means there has been a 40 percent turnover. In fact, New England will start 13 players who weren't in the starting lineup in that postseason game.

The Ravens, meanwhile, will line up 16 of the same starters from that game.

"Every year is a new year, every game is a new game," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "I don't think they're going back that far to think about it that much. I just think the bottom line for them is to try to get a win, just like us."

The Ravens are in agreement that their postseason win will have one effect.

"They're not going to overlook us," coach John Harbaugh said. "It would be great if somebody would. We'd appreciate that, but that doesn't happen very often."

Meanwhile, the Ravens are getting healthier as they approach Sunday's game.

Three starters who missed Wednesday's practice -- defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (knee), running back Ray Rice (knee) and fullback Le'Ron McClain (shoulder and knee) -- all returned to participate Thursday.

Ngata said the injury will not sideline him.

"I'm going to play," he said. "We're just being careful about going out there too early than I need to. So we're just watching it and making sure that I got into the books and make sure that I know everything."

Ngata injured the knee in Sunday's 31-17 victory over the Broncos when he got tangled with safety Darcel McBath while on offense during a fourth-and-goal situation.

Ngata said stiffness in the knee is more problematic than the pain, and he wore a brace on the knee while walking around the locker room. But he cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the brace.

"That's just to make sure that nothing happens," he said. "Just being cautious."

The team's decision to line up Ngata as a receiving option has drawn some criticism. Ngata said no decision had yet been made about his career on the offensive side of the ball.

"I'm just more worried about (playing) defense right now," he said. "But if they want me out there, I'll go."

After the win Sunday, quarterback Joe Flacco, who was sacked on the play, said he should have thrown the ball to Ngata because he has good hands. Ngata said he was unaware of Flacco's comments.

"But yeah, I probably would have caught it anyway," he said with a smile.

--The Ravens will be the first team to play New England since the Patriots traded wide receiver Randy Moss.

So, will that make the Ravens (4-1) more comfortable playing at New England (3-1) this Sunday?

"I was going to be comfortable regardless," cornerback Fabian Washington said, "but I'm not going to lose any sleep that I don't have to guard him."

The loss of Moss will likely impact the Patriots' vertical passing game, Washington said.

"I don't think they're going to take as many shots anymore because with a guy like Randy Moss, that's what he does," Washington said. "You throw it up and he catches the ball as we've seen Monday night (when Moss caught four passes for 81 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown against the New York Jets). That's what he does."

Added linebacker Ray Lewis: "You don't prepare differently for them, but you do prepare (knowing) you're not playing against Randy Moss. And that's always huge."

One effect that Moss, who caught 12 passes for 132 yards and scored twice in three career meetings against the Ravens, had was to shift opponents' coverage to his side of the field, which opened possibilities for receivers Wes Welker and Julian Edelman.

Baltimore cornerback Chris Carr said the recent addition of Deion Branch might entail a shift in coverage schemes.

"With Randy Moss, you might need to protect the deep ball more and play deeper on routes because they're going to take more shots," he said. "With a player like Deion Branch, they might run a lot of cuts, maybe a lot of dig routes, a lot of crisp route-running that you're going to have to stop that could be equally as difficult. So I guess it just presents something that's different. I wouldn't say it's easier or harder. I just think it's different."

Either Branch or second-year speedster Brandon Tate will likely fill Moss' role, but the lack of a credible vertical option would seem to place a tremendous amount of pressure on Brady, who must now operate what some might call a toothless offense.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh told the New England media during his conference call that he is anticipating the same explosive offense that many have seen in recent years.

"I don't think their offense will change," he said. "I think it will be the same offense. The personality of the offense sometimes takes a turn with different players that you have playing, it kind of goes in one direction or another. I think they'll run the same plays. They'll just put guys in position to do the things that they do well. Tight ends have made a big difference for them. Their offense is evolving even with the players that they have with the young guys."

SERIES HISTORY
6th regular-season meeting. Patriots lead series, 5-0. New England has won all five regular-season games, but the Ravens upset the Patriots at New England, 33-14, in last season's playoff game. Ray Rice's 83-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage jump-started Baltimore, which ran out to a 24-0 first-quarter lead.

Copyright (C) 2010 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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