Wake-up call: Harbaugh defends airing it out

November, 15, 2011
11/15/11
7:33
AM ET
Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:

Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended the decision to go to an all-passing attack in order to rally in Seattle.

Down 10 points in the first quarter and 12 points at halftime, the Ravens threw the ball a season-high 52 times and Ray Rice finished with season-low five carries. "I don't know how you would do it any differently," Harbaugh said, via the team's website. "When you're down, you've got to throw it to get back in the game."

Harbaugh pointed to several reasons for airing it out: two fumbles on kickoff returns led to fewer first-half possessions, the team trailed the entire game and the Seahawks are committed to stopping the run.

"In the end, we definitely want to have more runs," Harbaugh said. "That's indicative of having the lead, having more plays, especially early in the game. But the way the game went, we had to throw it."

Hensley's slant: The game was never out of control where the Ravens had to panic and abandon the run. The Ravens' defense was holding Seattle to field goals for most of the game, so Baltimore could have remained patient. Yes, the Ravens' passing attack closed Baltimore to 22-17 in the fourth quarter. But the Ravens never got the ball back because a visibly tired defense couldn't stop the run on that final drive. If the Ravens had run the ball, the time of possession (Seattle had the ball for 35 minutes) wouldn't have been so one-sided and the defense would've been given more breathers. The Ravens had four drives that lasted less than 85 seconds.
  • BENGALS: The team has yet to make a decision on who will replace cornerback Leon Hall, who was placed on injured reserve Monday. It will come down to either Kelly Jennings or Adam Jones. Head coach Marvin Lewis is optimistic that Jones can return from a hamstring injury and play Sunday against the Ravens. "Hopefully we'll see how he progresses during the week, but Adam would certainly help us if we can get him back into the swing of things," defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "Hopefully he will be able to step in and take some of the loss of Leon away." Hensley's slant: Jones is the more dynamic pick because of his playmaking ability. In five games last season, Jones had an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Still, whoever starts for the Bengals, no one will replace Hall's man-to-man coverage skills.
  • BROWNS: First-year head coach Pat Shurmur defended his decision to run the ball six straight times in the red zone to set up a field goal instead of throwing the ball to the end zone for a touchdown. His strategy backfired when the snap went off a Browns offensive lineman, which caused Phil Dawson to miss a 22-yard field goal attempt. "No. I'll go to the well with what I did," Shurmur said, via The Cleveland Plain Dealer. "And I'll go to the well lining up to kick the field goal, making them use timeouts and leaving them nearing two minutes to try to drive and beat us. I'll do that again." Hensley's slant: There is logic in playing it safe, and it could have resulted in a win. But at some point, the Browns need to break out of this conservative mentality and get aggressive. This mentality predates Shurmur. The Browns offense hasn't averaged more than 17 points per game in each of the past four seasons.
  • STEELERS: Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley is expected to be available when the Steelers come off their bye. Woodley, the Steelers' sack leader with nine, has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. Asked if he thought Woodley and James Harrison would be in the lineup for the Nov. 27 game at Kansas City, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau told The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "I think so." Hensley's slant: With Woodley and Harrison together again, the Steelers will get more pressure on the quarterback, which will lead to more turnovers. Want some more good news? The Chiefs' starting quarterback could be Tyler Palko because Matt Cassel has a "significant" hand injury.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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