A win, but no rest for team

The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens' reward for advancing to the AFC divisional playoffs? No day off.

Because the sixth-seeded Ravens are scheduled to play the top-seeded Tennessee Titans on Saturday at LP Field at 4:30 p.m., the players' and coaches' schedule has been shifted.

So instead of having today off, players and coaches will practice shortly after 11 a.m. Practice will be held tomorrow and Thursday, and the team will travel to Nashville on Friday.

"With the short week, we've just got to move everything up," coach John Harbaugh said yesterday during his weekly media conference at the team's training facility in Owings Mills. "So we'll start Wednesday on Tuesday. For our guys, that's tough, that's difficult, especially coming off of such a physical football game and such a stretch of physical games. But our guys, they don't flinch. They're looking forward to getting back to work on Tuesday."

The week's schedule mirrors the one the Ravens followed in the days leading up to the game against the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 20.

Asked later whether he has had to motivate players to practice, Harbaugh said: "On this football team, everybody gets everybody going. We don't have to talk our guys into practicing."

Job openings

The Ravens' victory has had a ripple effect on future employment opportunities for assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and director of pro personnel George Kokinis.

Ryan is a candidate for head coaching vacancies with the New York Jets, St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions, and Kokinis has been targeted by the Cleveland Browns for their vacant general manager position. But general manager Ozzie Newsome told The Baltimore Sun that any interviews will be delayed until after Saturday's contest.

"Anyone that wants to interview a coach or a scout or anyone else will not be allowed until after our game on Saturday," Newsome said.

Harbaugh said he had no concerns that possible interviews would distract Ryan.

"I know this: Rex's complete focus is on getting ready for the Titans," Harbaugh said. "If some of that stuff happens at some point in time, it'll be secondary to getting ready for the Titans, and that's how he wants it."

Another injustice?

Days after Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco were shut out of the voting for Coach of the Year and Rookie Offensive Player of the Year, respectively, the Ravens were dealt what they perceive as another injustice: Free safety Ed Reed finished third for Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Reed, who led the NFL with 11 interceptions and scored four defensive touchdowns, collected just eight votes to Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison's 22 votes. Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware finished second with 13 votes.

"I think Ed Reed deserves to be the Defensive Player of the Year - without question," Harbaugh said. "We've said it many times about all our guys: We think we have the best players in the National Football League. Football teams win when really good players play really well, and as a coach, that's what you're trying to get."

End zone

Rookie running back Ray Rice (left shin bruise) could have played against the Miami Dolphins, but the coaching staff decided to keep him on the sideline. "We just didn't feel like, as the game was going, that we wanted to put him in," Harbaugh said, adding that he expected Rice to play in Tennessee. "Not that we couldn't have. He was ready to play. It's just the way the game went."

Team spokesman Kevin Byrne estimated that about 90 fans greeted the Ravens when their buses arrived at the team's facility shortly after 10 Sunday night. "It was neat to see that the fans and the players could share that moment together," Harbaugh said. "That's kind of what it's all about, right? And I know our guys enjoyed it. I know I enjoyed it."

Flacco's 5-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter Sunday was the first by a quarterback against the Dolphins in the playoffs since the Super Bowl on Jan. 20, 1985, at Stanford Stadium, when the San Francisco 49ers' Joe Montana scored on a 6-yard run. "It was a quarterback draw," said Flacco, who scored his third rushing touchdown of the season. "I wanted to go back there and make it look like a pass, and the linemen did a great job of getting on their blocks and opening up a hole for me."

Asked whether the team enjoys playing on the road more than at home, Harbaugh replied: "I think our team loves playing anywhere. Anytime, any place. Put us in a parking lot, our guys will play."

Asked whether play got "chippy" between the Ravens and Titans in their meeting Oct. 5, Harbaugh objected to the adjective. "That term, I would never use that term with our team," he said. "That's not us. We're classy. Our guys are a tough, competitive, classy outfit. That's the way we play, and that's how we'll play this game."

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