Ravens return from bye week looking to make playoff run
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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh spent part of the bye week watching his daughter play lacrosse and even had a little time to leisurely catch a few football games on television.
Now, as the Ravens return to work they hope to make playoff push over the final seven weeks of the regular season.
Baltimore trails the Pittsburgh Steelers by three games in the AFC North. However, the Ravens (4-5) are only one game behind the Buffalo Bills for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC.
The bye week came at a crucial time for Baltimore, which has been hampered by injuries since the beginning of training camp. The Ravens hope to have several banged-up players back Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, including running back Danny Woodhead, who has not played since the regular-season opener.
"I'm excited that we have our offensive weapons back," Harbaugh said. "We are at more full strength than we've been all year. We need guys on the field. We need guys out there making plays. Our guys want to be out there making plays. So, yeah, I'm more excited now than at any point all year."
One of the areas Baltimore needs to change is its ability to make big plays downfield. The Ravens enter the week with the league's 32nd-ranked passing attack.
Quarterback Joe Flacco has thrown for 1,551 yards with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His 72.7 passer rating ranks 31st among all quarterbacks. Flacco, who is confident the Ravens can make a playoff run, said Baltimore needs to start attacking teams more aggressively for four quarters.
"There is a lot of opportunity out there," Flacco said. "We can't dwell on the fact that we are 4-5. We can't go back and change that. It is what it is, and we have to put that out of our mind the best we can. We have to have a short memory and just go out there and play football.
"We can't look ahead that far either, because when you start doing that and you start trying to look at the big picture of everything every single day, that just wears on you mentally. It is just too much for us to handle. We have to take it one week at a time. It is cliché as it can be, but we have to do that. We have to look at what is important now, and for us, that is getting a little bit of a break here and focusing on the Green Bay Packers."
The Ravens have struggled at Lambeau Field, but will not have to beat Aaron Rodgers. He is out with a broken collarbone and has been replaced by backup Brett Hundley, who led Green Bay to a 23-16 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Harbaugh said the Ravens just need to start a successful run of games, regardless of who is playing quarterback for Green Bay.
"You have to string together some wins at some point in time," Harbaugh said. "That's kind of the difference between making the playoffs or not making the playoffs, winning the division or not."
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