Ravens Played To Win, Not Rest

Baltimore chose to keep its starters in throughout the entire game during a 13-7 win.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Sunday, January 2nd, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Categories: 2010 Season, Ryan Mink, Week 17 vs Bengals

It didn’t take long for the Ravens to realize their hopes of winning the AFC North championship on Sunday were quickly fading.

They saw the score updates as Pittsburgh pulled ahead of the Cleveland Browns early, taking a 31-3 halftime lead, and kept pouring it on en route to a 41-9 victory.

But even with a postseason spot in their back pocket and nothing to play for as far as playoff seeding was concerned, the Ravens used most of their starters throughout Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Head Coach John Harbaugh and the players answered why after the game.

“[Pittsburgh] got out in front so fast, you kind of just forget about it,” Harbaugh said. “I think we focused on winning the game.”

Wide receiver Derrick Mason was asked if there was any desire to rest the starters in the second half.

“Why?” Mason said. “We didn’t have the game won. The score was 6-0, and why pull the starters when we’re not consistently going down the field? We wanted to go out with a win and go into the playoffs with momentum.”

Baltimore now has a four-game win streak heading into the playoffs. The Ravens have won six of their last seven.

“I didn’t want to go into the playoffs with a loss,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “You don’t want to have that sour taste.”

The problem Sunday came when Baltimore started to get nicked up.

Cornerback Josh Wilson and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe both left the game in the first half with shoulder stingers. Then tackle Michael Oher, fullback Le’Ron McClain, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and safety Ed Reed all went to the sidelines in the second half due to injuries.

McClain returned and Harbaugh said Oher and Ngata probably could have returned, but the Ravens “didn’t want to mess with that.”

Reed said Ravens coaches were asking him at halftime to come out of the game, but he didn’t want to.

“It’s a conference game – Cincinnati,” Reed said. “You want to continue to play. Next week wasn’t even here yet. I wasn’t even thinking about that. Sometimes you’ve got to listen to your coaches.”

Harbaugh said the Ravens were trying to keep substitutes flowing into the game to make up for the injuries and to spell the starters. Rookie Terrence Cody and fellow defensive tackle Brandon McKinney saw extended time, as did tackle Oniel Cousins.

“Three or four guys went down for us, that hurt us, and we weren’t going to have a chance to substitute anybody out,” Harbaugh said. “We were just trying to hang on and make sure we could get substitution groups in packages on the field.”

Tags: , , , , ,