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Despite loss to Bills, Ravens tied for first place in AFC North

Despite a frustrating loss in Buffalo during which quarterback Joe Flacco was intercepted a career-high five times, the running game was historically unproductive and the defense was gouged by the Bills' running backs in a 23-20 loss, the Ravens' standing in the AFC North remains static.

They're tied for first place in the division with two other 2-2 teams: the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. The last-place Steelers dropped to 0-4 following a loss to the Minnesota Vikings in London.

The Ravens defeated the Browns, 14-6, earlier this season and would have the head-to-head tiebreaker if the season was over today. They have yet to play the Bengals, who lost to the Browns on Sunday.

"It’s a consolation, no doubt," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "It’s week to week in the National Football League, Here we sit, we’re tied for the lead in our division, with a tiebreaker on Cleveland. And if I’m in Pittsburgh, I’m looking at it like, ‘We’re two games out of the lead in the division.’ They’re right there. Whoever wins the division games is going to win the division."

The Ravens travel to play the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, getting the Dolphins on a short week following their 38-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday night in which they allowed four touchdown passes from Drew Brees and Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill had four turnovers (three interceptions, one fumble).

"We can do our cause a whole lot of good by going down to Miami and playing our best and winning the football game," Harbaugh said. "That’s going to be our objective.”

The Ravens' running game has become a hot-button issue despite the presence of running back Ray Rice and fullback Vonta Leach, with questions raised about the offensive line's blocking, whether the backs are playing too tentatively or just not reading the holes properly.

"As the leader of the group, we will get better," Rice said Sunday after the Ravens rushed for 24 yards on a franchise-low nine carries. "We're 2-2 with a whole lot of football left. I'm not pushing the panic button yet. We have to play better. There's no surprise. The Ravens have to play better. We have to play better on the road."

Both of the Ravens' road trips this season have gone awry, starting with a 49-27 loss to the Denver Broncos to open the season in which quarterback Peyton Manning threw seven touchdown passes.

"Any given Sunday, you can get beat," Leach said. "We need to go down to Miami and get a win. That's what we got to do."

awilson@baltsun.com

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