"I've never, ever heard anybody say anything about Terrell Suggs not being a clean, tough player," said Harbaugh. "I do think that whole thing goes back to what we talked about last week - the rugby, scrum-type play." (Kevin Richardson/BSMG)
Upon reflection, outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil knew the Ravens probably embarrassed themselves and the city.
Included in the humbling 43-23 loss to their top rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, on Sunday night, the Ravens showed a lack of composure and class in dealing with defeat.
Even more disappointing, their actions were seen on a national stage where the Ravens have already had to deal with image problems associated with former running back Ray Rice's off-the-field problems.
"There were some things that we wish we could take back," said Dumervil, after the Ravens were penalized 10 times for 108 yards against the Steelers. "We've got to keep our composure, keep our poise. We struggled with that."
Some of the Ravens tried to blame the penalties and altercations on the intense rivalry with Pittsburgh, but that's an easy way out. There is no excuse for the way the Ravens behaved Sunday night.
The Ravens were called for three unnecessary roughness penalties, one for roughing the passer and another for a personal foul. Several players spent the night bickering with officials about holding penalties.
The Ravens had no composure.
"It's too many. It's just too many," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "You can talk about the different types of penalties and all that, I don't have a one sentence answer for it. The ones I don't like are the foolish penalties; those are the ones I don't have any taste for. You've got to be smart, you can't put your team in jeopardy. If they push you or whatever, you just have to walk away from it."
"You can disagree all you want, but [the NFL official] has the yellow flag, and he's going to call it the way he wants to call it, right or wrong. So, we've got to respond to that. That's our job."
Harbaugh is not pleased with the penalties, but he might want to take a longer look in the mirror.
He has been known to ride officials. A week ago, he was enraged when a referee nullified what appeared to be a game-winning touchdown by receiver Steve Smith.
In the last two weeks, the Ravens have played consecutive road games against AFC North opponents. And in stressful times, sometimes the players reflect the attitude of their coach.
But there is nothing that can defend the behavior of outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. The shot he took at Pittsburgh running back LeGarrette Blount was unprofessional and possibly could have ended Blount's career.
As expected, Suggs defended his tackle, but he should have been ejected from the game and fined by the league.
"I think it was traditional Ravens-Steelers," Suggs said. "Sometimes you just play football, and sometimes things happen when you play a physical sport."
That excuse might be more legitimate if it came from a rookie like linebacker C.J. Mosley or defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. But Suggs has been playing for the Ravens since 2003.
Isn't he supposed to be a team leader? Where were the team leaders Sunday night when the Ravens were acting like a bunch of juveniles in what was the biggest game of the 2014 season?
"Composure? I guess we just let it get out of hand," Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "We can't be getting those personal fouls."
Sunday night was like a trip down memory lane with the first stop on October 9, 2005. That's the day the Ravens set a record with 21 penalties against the Detroit Lions that included Suggs bumping an official.
On December 5, 2007 against the New England Patriots, the Ravens were involved in another flag-a-thon that included linebacker Bart Scott throwing an official's flag into the stands after a penalty.
"Each game is different," Ravens linebacker Daryl Smith said. "I mean, this is an emotional game. Things happen in a game like this, but we've got to keep our heads, keep our composure."
The Ravens can't afford otherwise. The last two games have been defining ones for them. They are an average team playing a schedule mostly full of below-average opponents.
Despite being in last place in the AFC North with a 5-4 record, the Ravens still have a good chance to make the playoffs. But they can't afford stupid penalties, especially against teams with good quarterbacks.
The penalties are not a major source of concern yet, but it's something to watch, especially for a team that has lost two straight games and didn't make the playoffs last season.
"We're disappointed we let each other down," Ravens center Jeremy Zuttah said.
Apparently, the Steelers had a similar message delivered from their coach earlier this season.
"It's just part of playing good football," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said Sunday. "You can't beat yourself if you want to be a tough team to beat. At the early stages of the season, we were an easy team to beat, largely because we were beating ourselves. We respect that. We aren't going to take that for granted.
"It's a daily battle to keep the penalties at a minimum, not only in terms of some of those types of things that you talk about, but the technical things, penalties in the secondary and so forth. I thought we did a good job of being combative, but doing it in the proper manner."