"[I] don't question the heart and the competitiveness," said John Harbaugh about the Ravens after their 28-24 loss to the Bengals. "[I] do question the execution at times. [I] do question the penalties." (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
Ravens coach John Harbaugh, staring at a short work week ahead of Thursday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, insisted Monday that the Ravens, the conference's only 0-3 team, are a "very confident football team" that will be better for their winless start.
"We feel like we can overcome any adversity," Harbaugh said Monday. "We have before. We will again. I don't care what walk of life you're in, you're going to go through tough times. You're going to go through adversity. You're going to walk through darkness, and you've got to know. You've got to keep walking. What's the old saying? If you're going through hell, keep going.
"That's what we're going to do. We're going to keep going. We're going to find a way out. We will come out of this the other way and what we want to be able to do is look back on it and be proud of the way we conducted ourselves. That's what we have to do in hard times, and that's what we plan on doing."
The Ravens had not started a season the way this, their 20th in the NFL, has played out through the first three weeks. Late, back-breaking touchdown drives by the Denver Broncos in a 19-13 Week 1 loss, the Oakland Raiders in a 37-33, Week 2 loss, and a 28-24 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday erased three late leads this year.
Offensive bright spots have included back-to-back games of 150 yards or more from wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., but the feared running game from a season ago hasn't shown up. On defense, those late, game-defining drives just haven't gone their way.
"I think we've been within a whisker — a play, really — of winning all three of these games," Harbaugh said. "That doesn't count for a hill of beans when it's all said and done and you look back, but it does count for something going forward.
"We understand what kind of football team we're capable of becoming, but we haven't been good enough to get those things done, so we have to get better. It's almost like basically, we're being told, 'Hey, I want to make sure you understand you need to get better — how much better you need to get.' That's the way we look at it."
That response came after he was asked about quarterback Joe Flacco and Smith both indicating that the team lacked belief, and that the young players were still learning what it takes to win in the NFL.
Harbaugh believes they've already made strides toward that.
"I think that's always part of the process, it's guys learning how to compete, learning how to make plays in critical moments," he said. "It's part of the process, probably, in anything, but certainly in football. We've got young guys capable of doing it, and that's why you keep pounding the rock. You keep coming to work. I told the guys, 'We stand on a foundation of a lot of hard work. A lot of good work that we've put underneath ourselves. That does not disappear.' "