Despite the Ravens' five-game touchdown drought and three-game losing streak, Art Modell said yesterday he believes his team could still sweep its final seven games to finish 12-4.
"I am no more disappointed, no more frustrated than any player or coach in this organization," the Ravens' owner said a day after returning from NFL meetings in Atlanta. "I know we're better. We just got into a horrible, horrible slump like a baseball pitcher's slump.
"It's going to end starting Sunday. We have seven games to go, and we could run the table. I'm not promising, but it's possible. Twelve-and-four would be a pretty good season."
The Ravens have not scored a touchdown the past five games, the longest drought in 50 years. They are one of two teams since 1950 to have gone five games without getting into the end zone. The other is the 1991 Indianapolis Colts.
Modell, an NFL owner for 40 years, admits he's never seen anything like the TD drought.
"I'm a big believer in records," he said. "I want to be known as a pace-setter. It's the first time I've seen this in 40 years. And I hope it's the last."
The 1991 Colts, who went five games without a touchdown, had a few marquee names on offense. The quarterback was Jeff George, who will start this week for the Washington Redskins. The running back was Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson. And one of the wide receivers was Billy Brooks.
"We had some great players," said Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, who played for the Colts then. "When I was with the Colts, we were a team that didn't have any confidence. The difference between that team and this team is we know we're good on this team. We're going places. We know we can win."
The Colts went 1-15 that season. After a 31-3 loss to Seattle dropped them to 0-5, coach Ron Meyer was fired and replaced by Rick Venturi. The Colts didn't score a touchdown - or win a game - for Venturi until Nov. 10, when they upset the New York Jets, 28-27.
The Colts' touchdown drought lasted through 21 quarters and 329:50 on the clock. The Ravens are at 20 quarters and 306:39.
Sharper's good to go
Outside linebacker Jamie Sharper, who was listed as questionable after he missed Wednesday's practice with a sore ankle, returned to work yesterday and said he will play against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
"I can't afford to miss any [games] in this losing streak," said Sharper, who leads the team with eight tackles for losses. "[The ankle] hurt a little, but it's nothing serious."
Siragusa (calf) is also listed as questionable. But he practiced yesterday, and trainer Bill Tessendorf said Siragusa has a good chance to play.
Earnest Byner, director of player development for the Ravens, left an eye-catching message on the players' bulletin board yesterday. It was a large team photo from 1997, and the faces of players no longer on the team were covered with color-coded circles.
Green was for players no longer in the league (30). Orange was for players with other teams (12). That left only 14 still on the Ravens three years later.
Byner runs the team's player programs, with information on continuing education, financial education and internships.
Modell said he was undecided about attending Sunday's game in Cincinnati, but leaning toward staying home. ... The Ravens lead the league in tackles for losses this season with 36. ... Quarterback Trent Dilfer has won five consecutive November starts - all with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - dating to a 31-17 win over Chicago on Nov. 29, 1998. ... Bengals left tackle John Jackson (hamstring) is out this week and will be replaced by Rod Jones. ... Wide receiver Marcus Nash, cut by the Ravens in August, was taken in the XFL's territorial draft by the Memphis Maniax. ... Bengals quarterback Akili Smith is 9-for-34 for 95 yards and one interception in his past two games.