As the Baltimore Ravens began their bye week, the focus was on the future instead of the immediate past.
For good reason.
If the Ravens (5-2) had to think about and dissect Sunday's 43-13 loss to Houston up until their next game, at Cleveland on Nov. 4, it would just be too darn depressing.
"We've got nine games left. We're leading our division, and it's going to be our opportunity to see what we can do with those next nine games," Harbaugh said Monday.
The season was going quite well until the Ravens got ambushed in Houston. It was 29-3 at halftime, and by the time the final whistle mercifully sounded, Baltimore had absorbed its most lopsided defeat since a 38-7 loss in Pittsburgh on Nov. 5, 2007 — the year before Harbaugh took over as head coach for Brian Billick.
The Ravens have made the playoffs in four straight seasons under Harbaugh, and history shows they have the ability to bounce back from a sound defeat.
In 2008, the Indianapolis Colts pinned a 31-3 loss on Baltimore. The Ravens won nine of their next 11 heading into the postseason.
After San Diego beat Baltimore 34-14 last Dec. 18, the Ravens didn't lose again until the AFC championship game.
"You can't achieve anything without going through some adversity," Harbaugh said. "So, the opportunity that is presented to us now is an opportunity to get better — to become whatever it is we're going to become."
Harbaugh can only hope the Ravens play far better the rest of the way than they did against the Texans. The offense sputtered and the defense didn't cash in on the inspirational presence of linebacker Terrell Suggs, who participated in 44 plays during his earlier-than-expected return from a torn right Achilles tendon.
Harbaugh shouldered the blame for his team's uncharacteristic dud of a performance
"It's on me," he said. "We didn't put our players in great position to win the game. We obviously weren't ready to handle their scheme, their intensity, the crowd. All the things we were up against in that game we did not do a good job with. I take full responsibility for that."
"The key is reacting, but not overreacting," Harbaugh said. "Understanding that it's a 16-game season and it's a tough league. This is just part of the process of building a football team. ... These are the kind of things you have to work through. This is the worst score we've had, but we've played worse games."
The Ravens will have a light practice Tuesday and take the rest of the week off.
"We need to rest, we need the recovery. We're going to heal up a little bit," Harbaugh said. "The bye week comes at a great time for us."
Except for the fact that the Ravens won't get a chance to rebound from Sunday's loss until next month.
"When you have a game like that, you want to get back in there as fast as you can. You want to play," Harbaugh said. "You want to kind of correct it and make it right."
After taking a beating by the Houston defense, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is more interested in resting his body than getting back on the field.
"It's always good to get off your feet for a little bit and get guys a little bit more healthy than they are," he said. "I don't think it matters that we're coming off a big loss like this or anything like that. It's just coincidence."
Harbaugh will take a break, too, but not before he and his staff decide upon the best way to move forward. He's not lamenting injuries to linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb; rather, he's trying to figure the best way to make the most of what he's got.
"We have everything we need," Harbaugh insisted. "We have all the players we need and we have all the scheme we need. Now what we have to do is organize it in a way that gives our players a chance to play their fastest and their best under pressure, on the road against good teams, and at home.."
Baltimore has the longest current home winning streak in the NFL, 14 straight, but is 1-2 on the road.
"We've all got to be better on the road," Harbaugh said. "That's something that we're not happy with right now."
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