Ravens move forward without injured-suspended CB Jimmy Smith
- NFL denies veterans group Super Bowl ad
- NFL forms social, racial justice group
- Ratings for title games down 8 percent
- Kaepernick finalist for service award
- Flowers' play key to Patriots' defense
By DAVID GINSBURG
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) The surging Baltimore Ravens will play the final quarter of the regular season without cornerback Jimmy Smith, who will be on injured reserve while serving a suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.
Smith tore his left Achilles tendon in Sunday's 44-20 victory over Detroit.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh confirmed Monday that Smith will go on IR, and said the team knew of the pending suspension before Sunday's game.
NFL rules allow a player to serve a suspension on injured reserve. Smith will not be paid during the suspension.
"The guys are very vigilant for the most part on that, and sometimes they make mistakes," Harbaugh said. "It's a broad array of different things that guys can get involved with, different supplements and things like that. To me, it's the players' responsibility. If they want to play, they're going be very vigilant about it and do a good job it."
Rookie Marlon Humphrey replaced Smith on Sunday and is expected to take over the starting role.
Smith's injury tainted an otherwise impressive afternoon for the Ravens (7-5), who played their most complete game of the year. The defense forced three turnovers, the offense padded the lead in the second half and contributed field goals from 38, 46 and 51 yards.
Three weeks ago, Baltimore was a sub-.500 team after losing three of four. Now, the Ravens are riding a three-game win streak - their longest of the season - and holding down the final seed in the AFC playoff picture.
"We've played better. We've found a way to win," Harbaugh said.
The Ravens have been building for this month, when every game seems just a little bit more important.
"That's something we talk about a lot around here. It's the way we organize the whole program, to play our best in December and January," Harbaugh said. "I think our guys take that very seriously, and that's the goal."
Before Sunday, the Ravens' standard formula was to rely heavily on the NFL's most opportunistic defense and make sure the offense simply held onto the football. Against the Lions, quarterback Joe Flacco tossed two touchdown passes and kept the Lions at bay after Baltimore let a 20-0 halftime lead shrink to seven points.
"We knew we could do it. It's just the fact of getting there and doing it," Harbaugh said. "The good news is, we did it when we had to do, which was in this game. The Lions were making a run. Our offense needed to step up and they did, and I'm really proud of them for that."
Next up for the Ravens: A Sunday night matchup against rival Pittsburgh, which took a six-game winning streak into Monday night's game at Cincinnati.
"It hasn't been ideal to this point," Flacco said, "but we have set ourselves up to the point where we are playing meaningful December football, and that's one of the goals at the end of the day."
The Ravens have generated a good deal of momentum over the last three weeks, but they've got a long way to go to end their two-year postseason drought.
"We haven't done anything yet. We're just still in the mix," safety Eric Weddle said. "We're still trying to find our way."
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
Updated December 4, 2017