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Secondary struggles in loss to Steelers

Steelers tight end Heath Miller dives into the end zone to score a touchdown in the second half of the Ravens' 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore Sunday.
Steelers tight end Heath Miller dives into the end zone to score a touchdown in the second half of the Ravens' 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore Sunday. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO, Carroll County Times)

BALTIMORE - The Baltimore Ravens let Charlie Batch beat them. Three days shy of his 38th birthday, Batch threw for 276 yards on Sunday, his most since Nov. 18, 2001. Only four times in a 15-year career had the Pittsburgh Steelers' journeyman thrown for more.

The Ravens secondary looked awful with lots of wide-open Steelers. Batch even helped them out late in the first half when he overthrew Mike Wallace in the end zone with no Baltimore defender in the same area code.

"They made plays. They made adjustments to certain things we were running. They made the plays. We've just got to play with better eyes, with better composure," Ed Reed said.

Batch had lost four of five times against Baltimore, all with the Steelers. When he was asked if he were surprised that Batch, who is Pittsburgh's third-stringer, had beaten them, Reed was taken aback.

"Not surprising at all. Maybe a little bit," Reed said. "Charlie Batch [is] a professional, man. I've been playing against him, and he's been on that team a long time."

Statistically, Reed had a big day. He nabbed his 61st career interception, putting him in 10th place on the NFL's all-time pick list. He also recovered a fumble when the Steelers' Emmanuel Sanders dropped the ball on his way to a possible touchdown.

With Ben Roethlisberger out, Byron Leftwich lost to the Ravens two weeks ago. Leftwich hurt his ribs in that game, and Batch stepped in.

"He did some good ball movements, some good ball fakes, some pump fakes that kind of moved me a little bit," Reed said.

"We've got to look at ourselves as individuals. This is a team sport, but I think we had a lot of individual plays out there, not selfish plays, but individual things where all of us could look back and say: 'Man, if I had made that play, if I had done this, we could have been there.'"

The Ravens have four games left in the regular season, and four quality quarterbacks. They get their first look at the wunderkind Robert Griffin III in Landover next Sunday and after the Redskins, face their old nemesis Peyton Manning and the Broncos in two weeks. Three weeks from now it's the Giants and Eli Manning, and they finish with Andy Dalton at Cincinnati on Dec. 30.

"We've got a tough schedule coming up. This is far from over," Reed said.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh looked as grim as he's ever been after a loss.

"I thought we had some errors," Harbaugh said of his secondary. A couple of their guys got open us."

The onetime Philadelphia Eagles defensive backs coach pointed out some of the unit's faults.

"They did a good job of faking a screen one time. Twice, they showed screen looks, and then released a guy upfield, got loose on us. We overreacted to the screen a little bit," Harbaugh said.

While the DBs overreacted in Harbaugh's estimation, Reed said the team shouldn't.

"It's going to take us not to fall apart after a game like this," Reed said. "There are a lot of plays that I know we all left out there. It was not one play or one person who made the difference in that game."

Bernard Pollard couldn't point a finger on what went wrong.

"Right now, we're just trying to figure out how and why. Right now, we're eating humble pie, and nobody likes to do that," Pollard said.

"We've got to be better at what we do schematically. They schemed us to some things. We could see that," Reed said. "There were some guys open. Who manages that? Whose zone was that? We've got corrections to make."

"It didn't cost us much. It cost us a loss today, but the season is still going. We're still in first place," Reed said.

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