Quick turnaround against Steelers looms for Ravens after loss, Rice being cut

Ravens facing difficult week against AFC North rival after losing to Bengals, Ray Rice being released

September 09, 2014|By Aaron Wilson | The Baltimore Sun

Emotional about Ray Rice's release and still stinging from a season-opening defeat, the Ravens play AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers in two days.

The quick turnaround looms for the Ravens following a disappointing game Sunday in which they lost, 23-16, to the Cincinnati Bengals. The potential of falling into an 0-2 hole in the division makes the Steelers game a pivitol one for a team that just dismissed one of its top players.

"It was a tough loss," veteran defensive end Chris Canty said. "Certainly, when you get this type of news [Rice's contract terminated], it doesn't make things any easier, but we have a job to do. We have to gather ourselves. We've got to move forward.

"The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming in here Thursday. From a professional standpoint, they could care less about what we're going through as a football team. We have to focus on what we need to do as a team to give us the best chance to be successful on Thursday night."

On the field, the Ravens' secondary has to not give up big plays like the game-winning touchdown cornerback Chykie Brown surrendered to Bengals All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green. They need the running game to settle down after Bernard Pierce lost a fumble and was benched against the Bengals. Justin Forsett filled in capably with 70 yards and a touchdown run.

Off the field, the Ravens have to maintain focus while facing extra scrutiny due to the Rice situation. The star running back was fired on Monday after a graphic video surfaced of him punching Janay Palmer, his then-fiancee and now wife, in an Atlantic City, N.J., casino elevator.

"The timing is the timing that it is," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "We have a football game to play Thursday night. We have no control over that. I don’t have any feelings about that at all. It will not impact us in any way, football-wise. You can’t allow that. This is professional football, and we’ll be ready to play Thursday night.”

The Ravens split the season series against the Steelers last year, winning their home game against them at M&T Bank Stadium.

Now, the Ravens will play the Steelers with the knowledge that Rice, who's been indefinitely suspended, won't play for them again.

“We’re going to play ball," wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "We knew we were going to be without him anyway for the first two games, so our focus is on the Steelers and nothing else. More so than anything is getting this stuff out of the way early, because at the end of the day, we’re focusing on our game plan and going out there to play ball.

"That’s just a product of it. We lost one of our best players here, and he was a great Raven, and it feels weird to even say that. That’s the punishment, and he has to deal with it. It’s way worse for him than it is for us. We just have to get ready for the next one.”

awilson@baltsun.com

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