Ravens' lack of composure tops list of concerns

PITTSBURGH -- The Baltimore Ravens have no one to blame but themselves for a 43-23 loss Sunday night to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

A week after debating whether the officials should've called the pass interference penalty on Steve Smith in Cincinnati, the Ravens are faced with a long list of concerns about how they self-destructed on national television to their biggest rival.

Their offense continues to turn the ball over at an alarming rate. Their defense got shredded for six touchdown passes in their first game without top cornerback Jimmy Smith.

But the biggest reason why the Ravens (5-4) are sitting at the bottom of the AFC North is their inability to handle adversity. The Ravens went from a team who had total control of the game for the first quarter to one that quickly unraveled for the final three.

For a veteran and playoff-tested team, the Ravens had their biggest meltdown in coach John Harbaugh's seven seasons. A season-worst 10 penalties for 108 yards underscored the lack of composure.

"Obviously, there are a lot of flags thrown and it doesn't look good for us," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "All I can say is that's not us. We don't have those types of guys."

This is exactly the image that Harbaugh has been trying to repair since he arrived in 2008. He even stopped the team from wearing their alternate black uniforms for a period because he didn't want the Ravens to be the "bad boys."

But there were the Ravens doing all of the wrong things while dressed in their white jerseys and pants. There was an unnecessary roughness penalty on linebacker Terrell Suggs for going low on running back LeGarrette Blount. There was a personal foul on linebacker Elvis Dumervil for shoving after the play. The crowd at Heinz Field was chanting "Throw them out" at one point.

"I think after the whistle, you've got to walk away," Harbaugh said. "There's a lot going on. That's stuff you have to walk away from. When they push you or whatever, you have to walk away from it."

This is not something you'd expect out of a team that had committed the eighth-fewest penalties in the NFL heading into Sunday night's game. There were even three penalties committed by the Ravens on one play in the Steelers' first touchdown drive.

"There are some things we wish we could take back," Dumervil said.

The Ravens have prided themselves on overcoming the toughest challenges. This is the same team that beat the Steelers by 20 points in Week 2 when the Ray Rice scandal could've been a distraction, and this is the same team that won two games with two rookies starting in the left side of the offensive line.

But the Ravens uncharacteristically lost focus in the second quarter with the score tied 7-7. Flacco said he didn't get his teammates lined up properly and confused running back Justin Forsett with the way he called the play. The result was Flacco getting intercepted on a pass that he was trying to throw away.

"I kind of lost my mind on that whole play," Flacco said. "I got everybody messed up."

Three plays after that turnover, Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant scored on a 19-yard pass and the Ravens were down 14-7. The Ravens couldn't stop the momentum from that point, which is something that had been a strength of the defense.

The Ravens had given up 23 points off turnovers this season, which was the eighth fewest in the NFL. On Sunday, the Ravens allowed 14 points to be converted off turnovers.

"We didn't respond well when bad things started happening," Suggs said.

The Ravens don't believe they're at a crossroads despite losing back-to-back games for the first time this season. Harbaugh said the Ravens will bounce back, although there were few answers in a solemn locker room.

"There are a lot of things that happened tonight that worries me," Suggs said. "Thank God, the NFL season is a marathon and not a sprint."