The Ravens might clinch the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC before they take the field Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars at M&T; Bank Stadium, but that scenario won't change their approach to the regular-season finale.
"I think we want to win the game," coach John Harbaugh said during his news conference yesterday. "You look at our guys and our football team, I don't know that we're the type of team that's going to want to go out there and not win a football game no matter what's at stake. It just so happens that we expect everything to be at stake. So we need to go win the football game."
The Ravens (10-5), who will make the playoffs with a victory over Jacksonville, play the Jaguars at 4:15 p.m. (The NFL switched to a later kickoff yesterday.) But if the New England Patriots (10-5) lose to the Buffalo Bills in a contest that starts at 1 p.m., the outcome of the Ravens-Jaguars game will be moot.
No matter what happens, the Ravens won't be able to rest injured players such as wide receiver Derrick Mason, cornerback Samari Rolle and safety Ed Reed, or valuable starters like linebacker Ray Lewis or quarterback Joe Flacco, before Sunday's game.
"So we're assuming that we're not going to clinch, and we'll play the game as if we haven't," Harbaugh said. "Now if during the game that changes, we can make those decisions during the game. But as far as those kind of personnel plans go, we aren't going to have the luxury to do that."
Mason working on shoulder
Harbaugh visited with Mason in the training room before meeting with the news media and said Mason is continuing to work on his aggravated dislocated left shoulder.
"It's a tribute to who he is as a competitor, and I'm sure he'll be out there Sunday doing whatever is necessary to help the Ravens win that football game," Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh sounded optimistic that Rolle (sprained foot), offensive tackle Willie Anderson (left ankle) and rookie running back Ray Rice (left shin contusion) could play Sunday.
The Ravens were cognizant of the speculation that they were hand-picked by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones as Dallas' final opponent at Texas Stadium. ... "I think it was an interesting rumor that we heard," Harbaugh said. "Certainly, we had some fun with it." ... Harbaugh said rookie kicker Steve Hauschka was deactivated Saturday night so cornerback Evan Oglesby could add depth against the Cowboys' receiving corps. ... Harbaugh's father, Jack, who won the 2002 NCAA Division I-AA football championship as the head coach at Western Kentucky, attended his son's news conference.