Don’t expect John Harbaugh to get sentimental about the return of Terrell Suggs in the Ravens’ home opener this week.
While there’s plenty of history between Suggs and the Ravens’ organization, there is a myopic focus on winning emanating out of Owings Mills.
The Ravens have a chance to go 2-0 and hold the top position of the AFC North heading into a tougher stretch of games with Kansas City, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
So, the handshakes and tributes will just have to wait.
“I’m not nostalgic about it right now. I appreciate the question, but that’s not important to me,” Harbaugh said. “It is outside of the game, but it’s the game that matters right now. And that’s what we’ll be thinking about. That’s what I’ll be thinking about, and I’m pretty sure the players feel the same way.”
The Ravens enter the game against Arizona as 13.5-point favorites.
It’s been several years since the team has been riding this type of momentum and generated such a national buzz. In a 59-10 victory over the Miami Dolphins, the Ravens broke franchise records for points in a game, total yards (643), margin of victory (49) and points in a half (42).
While it might be hard to duplicate that type of production, Harbaugh expects his team to play even better in the technical sense. The Ravens were nearly perfect against Miami, underscored by Lamar Jackson’s 158.3 quarterback rating with no turnovers, while the defense had three takeaways.
“You make your biggest improvement, generally, we always say, between the first and second anything,” Harbaugh said. “In this case, between the first and second game, we expect to make our biggest improvement that way, operationally. We’ll really strive for that and work hard for that this week.”
While there might not be too much personal interaction before the game, the Ravens will have to keep tabs on Suggs. The 36-year-old linebacker had five tackles, including two sacks, in the Cardinals’ 27-27 tie with the Detroit Lions in Week 1. Fellow linebacker Chandler Jones also registered a sack for Arizona, which allowed 477 total yards against the Lions.
“I’ve been watching him the whole preseason,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve been watching Arizona tape throughout the preseason, and he’s been playing really well. As far as that part, the emotional part of it, I’m not going to worry about that. Maybe it will [resonate] for some people and for some fans.
“Maybe some players will feel that way. I won’t. It’d be great to see him before the game and hug him and all that, maybe if I happen to see him. I hope we do, but once the game starts, he’s a Cardinal, and we’ll be looking to do the best we can against him. He’s playing really well. He’s a game wrecker, and that’s how we’ll be treating him.”
The Ravens will look to aggressively attack Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, who was 29 of 54 for 308 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in his NFL debut. Murray was also sacked a startling fives times and the Ravens will look to keep him on his heels for much of the game.
But don’t expect any bulletin board material from the Ravens, who are exuding confidence after the most dominant victory in the history of the franchise.
“I really don’t have any observations yet, other than he’s really talented,” Harbaugh said about Murray. “He’s a great thrower, great release. He’s obviously dangerous in the pocket. That’s [from] preseason; I haven’t got the chance to watch the game from Detroit yet, but I know that he had a huge comeback and threw for a bunch of yards in the second half and a bunch of TDs.”
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