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Ravens Hope Bye Week Will Give Banged-Up Team A Chance To Get Healthy

By Daniel Benjamin

The Baltimore Ravens head into their bye week reeling from devastating injuries and costly mistakes after dropping their fourth straight game in a 24-16 setback to the New York Jets. Still, the Ravens remain firmly in the playoff mix as they sit in the eighth spot in the AFC, and are just one game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.

Ravens Riddled with Injuries

The Ravens entered the game against the Jets the unhealthiest they have been all season, as 14-players littered their injury report last week. And for the first time, all seven players on the team's inactive list were there due to injuries. Steve Smith Sr., Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Ronnie Stanley, Marshal Yanda, C.J. Mosley and Shareece Wright all missed the game against the Jets. With the exception of Wright, the other members on the inactive list also missed the previous week against the Giants, with Stanley and Dumervil having missed more than half of the team's contests.

"We have a chance to hopefully put the finishing touches on a number of these recoveries and hopefully be as close to or at full strength when we get back," Harbaugh said Monday. "That would be my hope."

The players listed above are not the only Ravens walking around wounded. Quarterback Joe Flacco played the entire game against the Jets with a sore right shoulder. While Flacco said his shoulder was fine, he was wildly inaccurate against the Jets. He completed a season-low 56.8 percent of his passes for 248 yards along with two interceptions. Devin Hester, Kamar Aiken, Jerraud Powers, Kendrick Lewis and Jimmy Smith were also active for Sunday's game, despite battling injuries.

In addition, Terrence West along with LaDarius Webb and Tavon Young were dinged up in the game versus the Jets. West suffered an ankle injury on the first play of the game. He returned shortly thereafter, and finished with eight carries for just 10 yards.Webb (hamstring) and Young (concussion) did not return after suffering their injuries.

Ravens Offensive Line Needs Improvement

The Ravens offensive line has not played well and were completely overmatched against the Jets' front seven. Granted, injuries have been a big part of the struggle, but that is not the whole story. Baltimore has been forced to use different line combinations with rookie Alex Lewis, John Urshel and  Ryan Jensen filling in for Stanley, Yanda and Rick Wagner. This game of musical chairs has led to an unprecedented number of offensive penalties, a franchise-worse six rushing yards versus the Jets, and Flacco getting hit an extraordinary number of times.

Flacco has been sacked 14 times hit 44 times (seventh most in the NFL).  Furthermore, he’s been hit while throwing six times (tied for third most in the NFL) and has been under pressure on 35.1 percent of his drop-backs (10th most). Flacco was hit four times and sacked against the Jets.

Mistakes Coming At Inopportune Times

Not only are the Ravens making mistakes on both sides of the ball, but these miscues are also coming on third downs, forcing the team to settle for field goals, wiping out big plays, and leading to points as a result of turnovers or big plays against the defense. In the past two games, the defense has permitted three long touchdown passes of at least 66 yards. The Ravens need to tighten up their efforts if they want to remain in playoff contention. 

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