Reconfigured Ravens line hoping for return to health after uneven play vs. Giants

"We don't have our eyes in the right spot all the time," said John Harbaugh. "So I want disciplined guys back there and those are the guys that are going to play going forward." (Baltimore Sun video)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A Ravens season now worsening by the game perhaps was best personified by the state of its offensive line Sunday.

A unit that started just one player in his usual position suffered through an uneven performance in Sunday's 27-23 loss to the New York Giants, the Ravens' third straight defeat.


New York sacked quarterback Joe Flacco twice and hit him six times. Flacco has been sacked 14 times this season, tied for fifth most in the NFL, and hit 46 times.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning, meanwhile, was sacked just once and hit twice. A week ago, he was sacked four times in a 23-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers that became so toxic, left tackle Ereck Flowers shoved a reporter in the locker room afterward.


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There was no such drama in the Ravens locker room inside MetLife Stadium, but rookie Alex Lewis, who made his second consecutive start at left tackle, acknowledged that the line's showing did not meet his or his teammates' expectations.

"We've got to be a lot cleaner," he said. "At some point in time, we've got to clean things up and be solid up front and give Joe a little more time, and then good things will come."

Lewis was starting at left tackle for fellow rookie Ronnie Stanley, who missed his third straight game because of a foot injury. Stanley, the sixth overall pick, returned to practice last week for the first time since Sept. 23 but was limited Thursday and Friday.

Stanley said he was close to playing but deferred to coach John Harbaugh's decision to deactivate him.

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"It's always hard not to be able to go out and help your brothers," Stanley said. "But that was the decision that was made. That's something I've got to live with."

With Lewis starting at left tackle, John Urschel made his second consecutive start at left guard. Jeremy Zuttah, as expected, started at center.

Right guard Marshal Yanda was deactivated because of an injury for the first time since Dec. 16, 2012, when an ankle injury forced him out of a road game against the Denver Broncos. Yanda, who is battling a shoulder injury, kept his answers about his status short.

"I'm not going to talk about injuries," he said. "That's Harbs' deal, not me. I just couldn't go today."

Right tackle Rick Wagner was active but did not play because of a thigh injury suffered in last week's loss to the Washington Redskins.

"I felt pretty good, but I wasn't confident enough to go out there and play the whole game," he said. "I was there just in case we had some injuries."

Right guard Ryan Jensen and right tackle James Hurst filled out the starting line. The duo held up fairly well in the first half, but the offense began to run almost exclusively to the left, behind Lewis and Urschel, in the second.

The Giants entered Sunday's game with four sacks, and left with their first multiple-sack game in three weeks. Flacco refused to blame the offensive line for some of the hits he absorbed Sunday.


Odell Beckham Jr.'s 66-yard touchdown reception provided the winning points for the Giants in a 27-23 victory.

"A lot of the time, those guys are in there fighting," he said. "They're going against good players on the other side. So they want to do their best to open up holes and keep the quarterback clean, and like I said, sometimes you get on the edge and sometimes things happen like that."

Wagner agreed, adding: "I really don't think it affected them too much. These guys just aren't the backups. They're the people who started this week, and they prepare every week like they're the starters. So I don't really think there was too much [drop-off]."

It's too early to tell when or even whether the Ravens line will return to full strength. Lewis said the linemen who are available can't worry about anything but Sunday's game against the New York Jets.

"You just do what you do week in and week out," he said. "You go in and you watch tape, and you've got to be your own worst critic. You've got to see what you did wrong and fix it and get ready for the next team coming up."

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