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Latest setback doesn't deter Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl aspirations

By
Todd Karpovich,The Sports Xchange
Baltimore Ravens' Cyrus Jones (27) runs a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown over the Oakland Raiders during the first half of an NFL game on November 25 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Photo by David Tulis/UPI
Baltimore Ravens' Cyrus Jones (27) runs a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown over the Oakland Raiders during the first half of an NFL game on November 25 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The players and coaches for the Baltimore Ravens are confident they have enough talent to make a run to the Super Bowl.

For now, though, the team is fighting just to make the postseason after a 27-24 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 14.

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"We can beat anybody and we can win the whole thing," safety Eric Weddle said.

The Ravens are 7-6, and hold the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC by virtue of a tie-breaker. The Colts, Dolphins and Titans are also 7-6, so the Ravens will likely have to finish with 10 wins to snap a three-year playoff drought.

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Baltimore is also a half-game behind Pittsburgh, which closes out the season against the Patriots, Saints and Bengals. The Ravens have home games against the Buccaneers and Browns, and a tough road test against the Chargers.

"The way we look at it is we need to win three games in a row," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said at his Monday press conference. "We've been here before. All of our focus is on Tampa Bay."

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Quarterback Joe Flacco, who has been battling a hip injury, should be healthy enough to play against the Buccaneers. Rookie Lamar Jackson has gone 3-1 as the starter in place of Flacco.

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While Flacco is much better throwing the ball downfield, Jackson is a dual threat that has sparked the Ravens offense. Both players could get opportunities against Tampa Bay.

"I think it stands to reason that if Joe is ready to go, he'll be part of the game plan," Harbaugh said. "He's too good of a player not to be. We'll just figure that out as we go this week to what degree how it works. Everybody will know going in -- perhaps except everybody outside. We'll see unless I change my mind on that. I'm excited. If we get Joe back, it's good because it's another good player."

Jackson suffered a left ankle injury in overtime against the Chiefs, but the X-rays were negative. He should also be available against the Buccaneers.

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He is prepared to lead the offense.

"We are a strong team. We can fight with anybody," Jackson said. "I know a lot of people doubted us to lose this game anyway, but it was not how they thought it was going to be. We just have to get better next week and move on."

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--QB Joe Flacco (hip) was cleared to play against the Chiefs, but was inactive because of the lack of reps during practice. "We just did not have him prepared enough," coach John Harbaugh said. Flacco will be available Week 15 against the Buccaneers and will be involved in the offense. "I know what we want to do," Harbaugh said. "We have a plan. We have to talk to our guys about it. Whether we share it publicly, we'll decide as the week goes on."

--OL James Hurst (back) was active against the Chiefs after missing the previous six games with a back injury. Hurst played 18 snaps at left guard in place of the injured Alex Lewis (shoulder). The offensive line allowed two sacks.

--S Tony Jefferson (ankle) was inactive for the second straight game. He suffered the injury Week 12 against the Raiders. Jefferson was replaced by Chuck Clark in the starting lineup. Clark had the Ravens' first interception in seven games against Kansas City. Jefferson could return this week against the Buccaneers.

--LG Alex Lewis (shoulder) was inactive against Week 14 against the Chiefs. The third-year player has battled through injuries over his three-year career. Lewis suffered a stinger Week 12 against the Raiders, but was able to return.

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--DE/FB Patrick Ricard was a healthy scratch after several racist and homophobic slurs that he posted on Twitter from 2011-12 resurfaced. "I want to sincerely apologize for my inappropriate and unacceptable tweets," Ricard said after the game. "I was a 16-year-old kid in high school who clearly made bad choices. Those words do not reflect who I am today." Ravens coach John Harbaugh called the tweets "unacceptable" and Hurst's status moving forward is uncertain.

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