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'Truth hurts' for Ravens secondary after 'embarrassing' performance

Lardarius Webb, Antonio Brown
(Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun)

After the Ravens' loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, reserve safety Jeromy Miles wore a T-shirt with an unintentionally fitting message across his chest: "Truth hurts."

The Ravens' cornerbacks and safeties were rendered powerless to prevent Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger from continuing his torrid pace as he threw six touchdown passes with no interceptions.

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"We've got to get better in the back end," said cornerback Lardarius Webb, who allowed a 47-yard touchdown pass to Markus Wheaton and a total of seven receptions surrendered for 105 yards. "In the back end, we can't let the ball be getting over our heads."

The Ravens remain short-handed at cornerback. Top cornerback Jimmy Smith remains out for several weeks with a sprained left foot, according to sources. He is on crutches and in a protective walking boot. And cornerback Asa Jackson remains on injured reserve-designated to return with a toe injury.

The Ravens are still searching for solutions, shuffling their defensive lineup again Sunday night as Will Hill started for the first time at safety opposite Darian Stewart, with strong safety Matt Elam lining up at nickel back. The Ravens also started Dominique Franks at cornerback with Smith out.

"When some player expresses himself as being the best player by how he plays, he'll be out there permanently," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday during his weekly news conference. "Until that happens, nobody is given anything. I think guys have played OK at times, well at other times, and there have been a few bad plays back there.

"We had two plays which were coverage busts. We were in the wrong spot. We weren't on the same page. We misplayed the coverage, and there were three other times where we got beat physically. Those are bad things. It's a good group, but we're capable of covering them."

The Ravens allowed Roethlisberger to complete 25 of 37 passes for 340 yards for a 136.3 quarterback rating. Harbaugh attributed some of the breakdowns to fundamental lapses.

"We have to look at what we're doing scheme-wise, look at what we're doing technique-wise," Harbaugh said. "We have to play better technique. We're not disciplined back there in technique like we need to be. Our eyes aren't in the right spot all the time like they need to be. Your footwork has to be right, your eyes have to be right, your leverage has to be right, and then you have to play the ball well.

"We're looking for the right combinations, but I think that's a little overrated. You want to play in the secondary? Step up and practice and play well and step up in the game and make plays and be in the right spot. That's what we're looking for guys to do."

Franks allowed five receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown. He also dropped a potential interception. Franks acknowledged that the game was "embarrassing."

"To go out there and have them put up 40-plus points, that's something we don't pride ourselves on," Franks said. "We've got to get better, so we don't have this feeling again.

"We are missing a great player in Jimmy, but we've got to capitalize on our opportunities and come up with interceptions and fumbles. We are capable guys in the secondary."

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown caught 11 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown on which he beat Chykie Brown and Hill missed a tackle in the open field when he got stiff-armed to the ground.

"We just didn't make the plays we needed to make out there," Miles said. "We need to watch film and learn from it and stop making the same mistakes. We get a chance to make it right. I think we have a great group of guys and will respond the right way."

awilson@baltsun.com

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