Ravens head coach John Harbaugh didn't hear all the chatter on television or the countless complaints on local airwaves. He didn't see all the stories on the Internet and he certainly didn't scan the message boards to gauge the mood of Ravens' fans.
It was actually his wife, Ingrid, who brought up the Ravens' offseason decision to trade Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers "a couple of times" following the wide receiver's 13-catch, 208-yard performance Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
"There's nobody here that didn't want Anquan back," Harbaugh said Monday, acknowledging he watched his brother Jim's 49ers win their season opener, 34-28, over the Packers with Boldin making one big play after another. "He plays for another team now. I have had a rooting interest in that team, I guess, in a way. I have a rooting interest in Anquan, too. We all do. He played well. It was a business decision both ways. It was definitely disappointing it went the way it did. But I'm happy for his success and looking forward to our success as well."
With the Ravens not wanting to pay Boldin the $6 million he had due on his 2013 contract and the 32-year-old wide receiver unwilling to accept a $2 million pay cut, they traded Boldin to San Francisco for a sixth-round draft pick in early March.
The decision, made with the fan base still celebrating the organization's second Super Bowl title, was mildly criticized at the time, but the second-guessing is growing louder by the day. It certainly didn't help that Boldin's dominant performance came just three days after his former team opened its season with a 49-27 loss to the Denver Broncos.
In that game, the Ravens' tight ends dropped several passes and wide receiver Jacoby Jones, one of the players the team chose to keep over Boldin, was knocked out with a knee injury which is expected to sideline him for several weeks. The defense that general manager Ozzie Newsome and company overhauled this offseason, partly with the help of the money saved by dealing Boldin, allowed an NFL-record tying seven touchdowns from Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and the 49 points it surrendered was a franchise record.
And for three days — with the Ravens getting a rare football weekend off — that's all coaches and players had to think about.
"That kind of performance, in the end, is never going to be acceptable," Harbaugh said. "We're capable of playing far better and we have to."
Harbaugh opened his first news conference Monday since his first season-opening loss as the Ravens' coach by predictably saying, "We're ready to move on." He said his team exhibited that attitude as early as last Friday when they had meetings and a walk-through practice to correct the mistakes it made against the Broncos.
"We're ticked off at ourselves, to use your term," Harbaugh said. "We're not happy about the way we played especially in critical situations. Against a good team like that, and all credit to them, you just can't hand them points. That's just not something you can do and we did that. We handed them opportunities and going forward we have to improve on that. So yeah, we should be upset about that. We also have to move on emotionally and prepare for the next challenge."
That next challenge comes Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, a team that the Ravens have beaten 10 straight times. Harbaugh, quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice, who are all in their sixth seasons with the Ravens, have never lost to the Browns, who had a host of issues of their own in a 23-10 home loss to the Miami Dolphins Sunday.
After watching film for several days of the Broncos' game, the Ravens players are just happy to move on to another opponent.
"It was tough — especially when you're watching film and guys are out of character and not doing things that they normally do," cornerback Corey Graham said. "So, it was tough for us as a defense as a while, and probably as a team. We have to play better. We know what we've got to do, and that was unacceptable."
Graham took accountability for some of the secondary's issues as he struggled all night long to keep up with Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker. He called it one of the worst games that he's played and cited some communication issues that he had.
Harbaugh, however, discussed a plethora of mistakes, made by all three Ravens' units, that allowed a three-point halftime lead to morph into a 35-17 deficit by the start of the fourth quarter.
On special teams, a lack of awareness by rookie Brynden Trawick resulted in Jones' injury and then the Ravens allowed a punt by Sam Koch to be blocked, leading to a Broncos' touchdown. On offense, the Ravens dropped passes, allowed too much penetration and struggled to open up holes in the running game. On defense, the Ravens blew assignments, missed tackles and communicated poorly.
"Our issue was the big plays," Harbaugh said. "You can't give up a screen for a touchdown. That's just not acceptable. You can't leave guys wide open. You can't miss tackles. You can't turn guys loose in the red zone. You can't do it."
Harbaugh put the onus on himself and his coaching staff to keep stressing the fundamentals and make sure the players hold up better in game situations. He said that he was "excited" for that challenge.
He also found a silver lining following a difficult weekend for every Ravens' fan, with the way the team performed and then having to watch one of their Super Bowl standouts make a wildly successful debut for his new team. Every other team in the AFC North joined the Ravens in going 0-1 as well.
"The great thing about it is — and we all know this — it's week-to-week in this league, and it's going to be that way," Harbaugh said. "What we need to do is take care of our business. If we take care of our business, we're going to be in the hunt and make it interesting, and if we don't, we're not. All of a sudden, we find ourselves tied for first place. We also find ourselves tied for last place. … We believe we're capable of being a very good football team but we have to make it happen."
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