Ravens-Seahawks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 09, 2011
Coming off a thrilling victory over their biggest rival, the last thing the Baltimore Ravens need is to slip up against a beatable opponent. The visiting Ravens will try to remain focused while looking for a third consecutive victory Sunday against a Seattle Seahawks team hoping to avoid their first four-game skid in almost two seasons. Trailing Pittsburgh by four points with 2:24 remaining last Sunday night, Baltimore (6-2) drove 92 yards, capping a 13-play drive when Joe Flacco hit rookie Torrey Smith for a 26-yard touchdown pass with 8 seconds left for a stunning 23-20 victory at Heinz Field. The Ravens' win completed a season sweep of Pittsburgh and left them in a tie with Cincinnati atop the AFC North. Though Baltimore has plenty to feel good about, the Ravens realize there is still much work to be done. "We're at the halfway point, and we put ourselves in a good position,'' Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "We got a tough West Coast trip, and if we don't go out and play well we're just going to put ourselves back in a hole.'' The Ravens hope they will not suffer a collective hangover from last weekend's emotional victory when they face Seattle (2-6) for the first time since a 27-6 road loss to the Seahawks on Dec. 23, 2007. "You just have to keep stacking wins," coach John Harbaugh said. Flacco's play late in the last two games is a big reason the Ravens have built some momentum. The often criticized signal-caller has thrown for 636 yards the past two weeks - including 238 after halftime in rallying Baltimore from an 18-point deficit against Arizona - after being held to a season-low 137 in a 12-7 loss at Jacksonville on Oct. 24. Smith, meanwhile, has become one of Flacco's favorite targets with eight receptions for 128 yards over the last two contests. Smith came through in the end at Pittsburgh after he committed a penalty to negate a Ray Rice TD run on the game's first play and dropped a potential touchdown pass earlier on the winning drive. "I have to go to Torrey and I hope he makes the play,'' Flacco said. "He's a playmaker and when you need to make a big play down the field, he's the best guy for that.'' If there is an area of concern for the Ravens, it might be how well they have stopped the opposition of late. Despite the positive results, Baltimore yielded a combined 47 points to the Cardinals and Steelers after giving up 50 during its previous four games. The vaunted Ravens defense, which ranks second in the NFL (279.4 yards per game), allowed 392 against the Steelers. That unit has a chance to get back on track against the Seahawks, who have been outscored 63-28 during their three-game skid. Trying to avoid losing four straight for the first time since dropping the final four of the 2009 season, Seattle has found the end zone twice over the last three games. Both have come courtesy of running back Marshawn Lynch, who scored late in last Sunday's 23-13 loss at Dallas. Turnovers and penalties also have plagued the young Seattle club. With 10 penalties at Dallas, the Seahawks have committed 29 over the last three games and at least eight in six contests in 2011. Their 70 penalties on the season rank second in the NFL behind Oakland's 84. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson threw three interceptions against the Cowboys to increase the Seahawks' turnover total to 12 over the last five games. "Our margin has been very, very narrow and that's why a couple penalties or a turnover or a kicking game situation can make the difference in the game,'' coach Pete Carroll said. On a positive note, Lynch ran for 135 yards last Sunday to become the first Seahawk to top 100 rushing yards in a regular season game since Justin Forsett's 130 during a 27-17 win at St. Louis on Nov. 29, 2009. One of the few Seahawks to have faced the Ravens, Lynch rushed 27 times for 84 yards and a TD against Baltimore while with Buffalo in 2007.
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