Ravens coach John Harbaugh stood at the podium Monday afternoon for his weekly press conference with the media, and for nearly 20 minutes he fielded questions about the inconsistency of his football team, their inability to run the football and their miscues on special teams and defense. But he offered up few answers, and he spent much of the session with his jaw clenched.
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Harbaugh didn't raise his voice or get angry, but he sternly rejected any suggestion that the Ravens three losses this year — all to teams with a losing record — could be tied together in some fashion. In his opinion, it doesn't matter that each loss came on the road or that each defeat came after an impressive emotional victory over a good team. Each loss, Harbaugh said, must stand on its own.
"The comparisons that people want to draw between the three games, that's all hypothetical, theoretical stuff," Harbaugh said. "When you know football, you understand the schemes that you see and the situations that you face are different in every single game. ... I'm not a psychologist. I think what you do is you look at football. We're moving forward. We took responsibility for the loss and we're moving forward."
After several minutes, Harbaugh expressed some annoyance that no one was asking questions about what actually happened during the 22-17 loss to the Seahawks, but when the questions shifted from big, overarching themes to questions about the Ravens play-calling or defensive schematics, he was no more forthcoming.
Harbaugh said he didn't have a problem with the ratio of runs verses passes, and he didn't think the Ravens — who threw the ball 52 times and ran it only 12 — should have, or could have, run it more.
"I don't know how you would do it any differently," Harbaugh said. "We were in a situation where we lost two possessions [on turnovers]. When you don't have very many plays, it's hard to build up your running game. The way the game went, we had to throw it. ... In that game, I didn't see a lot more opportunities to run the ball."
Whether you agree with Harbaugh or not, the Ravens obviously have some issues to resolve with the Cincinnati Bengals coming to town on Sunday. Running back Ray Rice was not happy after the game against the Seahawks, but he politely declined to speak with reporters, saying he was still too emotional. If he's unhappy with the amount of carries he's getting, he's keeping it to himself, at least for now.
Ravens center Matt Birk said the team would love to run the ball more, but the way the game unfolded made it difficult.
"I'm not going to rip the coaches," Birk said. "Circumstances kind of dictate what happens to a certain extent. Most teams probably want to shut down Ray Rice. We still have to find a way. When we do call his number, we've got to block it up and get him to the second level and in positions where he's at his best. When you're trying to play catch up and other teams know that, it's hard to stay balanced."
Anquan Boldin had no problem acknowledging that the Ravens can't win if all they do is throw the ball.
"Ray definitely has to get involved," Boldin said. "I guess it was a situation where we were down and it kind of took him out of the game."
Harbaugh said there were some positives to draw from the game against Seattle. The Ravens' red zone defense was good, and they were able to protect Joe Flacco and give him time. And he was proud of their effort.
"We played hard. We competed. It wasn't good enough," he said.
The mood of the team, however, was disappointment. It was a long plane ride home from Seattle late Sunday night, and Harbaugh sensed they were hurting a bit.
"On the plane ride back, we had every single guy, that I could tell, on his iPad watching the game," Harbaugh said. "And they were talking about it and going through it. This is a bunch of pros. These are professional guys, they work very hard at it, and they take a lot of pride in what they do. It was a disappointing loss, but they will put it behind them."
Harbaugh reiterated several times on Monday that each loss this year should be viewed on its own, but plenty of players seemed to acknowledge after the game the similarities can't be ignored.
"We haven't shown that we can win games after a big win," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said.
"It's a trend we need to stop," said linebacker Jameel McClain.
"These are the kind of games you have to have, especially against teams and opponents you're supposed to beat," said Vonte Leach. "We came out flat."
Harbaugh said he understands there is some frustration and doubt, but tried to emphasize that he's not interested in the big picture until the season is over.
"The story of the season is going to be written at the end," Harbaugh said. "I'm not writing that story now. ... I'd like to give you an answer, but I'm not really interested, to be honest with you. It's not my job to answer that for you. Our answer is on Sunday. That's what a football team has to do. That's what our focus will be."
Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.