Don't be surprised if defensive coordinator Rex Ryan is named head coach of the New York Jets today. Ryan and the Jets are close to a deal, according to reports in several New York newspapers.
After the Ravens' 23-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game last night, Ryan said he didn't have plans to meet with anyone today, but that was subject to change. He sounded like a coach who was prepared to say his goodbyes to a team he has coached for 10 years.
"I was blessed to be in this situation, being around John [Harbaugh] and Cam Cameron," said Ryan, who got emotional when talking to his players.
"Rex Ryan is going to be a great head coach in the National Football League," Harbaugh said. "If somebody is wise enough to make that decision here shortly, they will have a great head football coach. I just support him completely in that.
"He's a great friend. He's a great coach. I can't thank him enough for what he's done ... along with all the coaches. Cam [Cameron, offensive coordinator], Jerry [Rosberg, special teams coordinator], every single coach."
If Ryan leaves, look for him to take several Ravens coaches with him, including linebackers coach Mike Pettine, who would become the Jets' defensive coordinator.
Ryan also likes Ravens quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson, who would become the Jets' offensive coordinator. The only problem is Jackson could have more than one offer.
Jackson was once the Cincinnati Bengals' wide receivers coach and tutored Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer in college. Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis could be interested in Jackson becoming Cincinnati's offensive coordinator.
Suggs shoulders load
Terrell Suggs' playing status was in doubt right up until game time, but the Pro Bowl linebacker not only played but also led the Ravens in sacks with two. Suggs missed most of the second half of the divisional playoff game against the Tennessee Titans and did not practice in the week leading up to last night's game.
After the loss, Suggs said his shoulder bothered him at first but by the second half he was "prepared to leave [his] shoulder on the field."
Harbaugh said he was proud Suggs' effort.
"I don't know how he graded out or anything like that," Harbaugh said. "I thought he competed and fought through it really well, and that's what he's about. That's what our guys have been about throughout the course of the year. We had a lot of guys who played through stuff. Terrell Suggs is a courageous guy."
Suggs, scheduled to become a free agent in the offseason, said the impact of last night's loss had not yet fully been felt but that he looked forward to returning to the Ravens for the 2009 season.
"I think we started something really good here. New coach came in and we played for a championship. I think that's a good start," Suggs said. "Hopefully, they want to keep me around for a couple of years."
As their franchise player, Suggs played under a one-year contract for more than $8 million, and he is one of three starting linebackers due for free agency this offseason.
"It doesn't feel like goodbye. It doesn't feel like a farewell performance," Suggs said as he gingerly pulled on his shirt. "I hope not, because I want to be here. I want to be part of this great team and this great defense. I don't want to let that go."
Just missing the Super Bowl only makes him more eager to stay, he said: "We got so close, you don't want to lose any of the components that got us here. But it's a business decision, and business things have to be done."
Nowhere to run
For the second straight game, the Ravens' running attack was missing in action. Led by Willis McGahee's 60 yards on 20 carries, the Ravens had just 73 rushing yards and a 2.9-yard average rush against the Steelers. Against the Titans, they rushed 30 times for 50 yards.
Conspicuous by his absence from the running game was Le'Ron McClain, who had one carry for 3 yards. McClain was mostly a blocker for McGahee, who left the field on a stretch in the fourth quarter after a blow to the head.
McClain said running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery told him his role would be as a blocking fullback. He also said his gimpy ankle was not a problem.
"My ankle was fine," he said. "My role today was fullback. ... I'd rather have no carries and win.
"Willis had a great game. I could see it in his eyes the whole week. I hate the way it ended."
Ryan was proud of his entire defense but mentioned the courage of cornerback Frank Walker, who suffered a dislocated left shoulder in the first half but returned to play in the second.
"Look at Frank Walker," Ryan said. "He dislocates his shoulder, and he gets back in there. We had a lot of guys hurt."
When Jeff Reed's 34-yard field goal capped the Steelers' opening drive, it marked the third straight time in the playoffs the Ravens allowed the opposition to score first. ... Setting the tone in the hard-hitting series, Ravens special teams player Daren Stone suffered a concussion on the opening kickoff.
The Ravens' captains were: linebacker Ray Lewis, wide receivers Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton, defensive lineman Trevor Pryce, safety Jim Leonhard and special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo. After the coin flip, Rod Woodson, who was dressed in a Steelers jersey as Pittsburgh's honorary captain, hugged O.J. Brigance, the Ravens' team captain. Brigance, the Ravens' director of player personnel, is battling ALS.
Cornerback Samari Rolle was the only Ravens starter on the inactive list. He was replaced by Walker. ... Country star Martina McBride sang the national anthem.
Baltimore Sun reporters Jamison Hensley, Mike Preston, David Steele, Bill Ordine and Ken Murray contributed to this article.