Ravens march on without Boldin

Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin is tackled by Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor at Heinz Field in...

Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin is tackled by Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Penn., Nov. 6, 2011. (JARED WICKERHAM/Getty Images/AFP)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:40 PM ET

TORONTO - There were a few Super Bowl hopefuls who last week took it on the chin.

No team was staggered more than the Baltimore Ravens, a team that was, at worst, a co-favourite along with the New England Patriots to be the AFC Super Bowl representative.

However, last Sunday evening, the Ravens travelled to San Diego and were mugged by the Chargers to the tune of 34-14.

The Chargers are a hot team and all, and the stunning part wasn’t that the Ravens lost, but in the manner they lost — crushed on both sides of the ball.

The sting from that defeat was significantly reduced when the following night the Pittsburgh Steelers ran into a brick wall at San Francisco and were manhandled by the 49ers.

The Steelers loss allowed the Ravens to remain atop the AFC North and, at 10-4, they are looking to close it out with victories over Cleveland and Cincinnati in the final two weeks.

If the Ravens win out, they will not only win the division but clinch a first-round bye.

But they will attempt to reach both of those goals without their top receiver, Anquan Boldin, who underwent surgery on Thursday to repair a “slight” miniscus tear in his knee. The operation was performed by famed sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews and the prognosis is that Boldin will miss the final two weeks but should be ready to go in the playoffs.

If the Ravens earn the first-round bye, Boldin gets a third week of rest.

“It flapped up on him, I think it was Tuesday night after the walk-through,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s two weeks and he’ll be back for the playoffs, whatever round we happen to play in. It will be a little bit tighter if we have to play in the first round.”

If the knee doesn’t respond properly and he needs more time, it would throw a wrench into the Ravens’ Super Bowl dreams.

This season, Boldin has 57 catches for 887 yards and three touchdowns and has been their main downfield threat along with Torrey Smith.

Filling Boldin’s shoes the next two weeks will be the former Bill, Lee Evans, though Saturday’s game against Cleveland will mark just his third start because of injuries.

On the season, he has just four catches for 74 yards, but the hope in Baltimore is that in the final two games, he can build a rapport with quarterback Joe Flacco and become a legitimate threat in the playoffs.

“It’s an opportunity,” Evans said. “Whatever is called on me to do, I’ll be ready to do.”

“I’ve been working to get back to this point and I’m getting an opportunity. It’s what it is, and I’m looking forward to it.”

WAR OF WORDS

It all started with Jets coach Rex Ryan, naturally, but the war of words between the Giants and the Jets has really taken off. The teams clash on Saturday in one of the biggest games of the weekend with both teams needing a victory to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Former Giants great Michael Strahan, now a Fox analyst, didn’t think much of Ryan bad-mouthing his former team a few days ago.

“It’s a fine line whenever you have to talk that much,” Strahan told the New York Daily News. “Once it kind of seems like a joke, it becomes a joke to your own players.”

He added that if the Jets were as good as they thought they were, they wouldn’t have to run their mouth.

“If I have to walk into a room and tell you how bad I am, I’m probably not that bad,” Strahan said. “If I’m comfortable in my own skin, I shouldn’t have to convince people of my words. That’s the whole thing with Rex I look at. At some point, you just look and go ‘enough is enough.’ ”

The players, meanwhile, are getting into the verbal bomb-throwing as well.

Here is Giants receiver Victor Cruz yapping about Jets corner Darrelle Revis: “Teams aren’t really scared (of him) anymore. He’s had to earn his money this year.

“Teams aren’t really backing down. I feel like we’re going to do the same thing. We’re going to go out. Until he physically stops us we’re going to throw the ball on him.”

QUICK HITS

Veteran LB Joey Porter was placed on injured reserve by Arizona, which could signal the end of his career. Porter, 34, has not played for the past two months following knee surgery. One of the best pass rushers with both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins, Porter had one sack this season, giving him 98 in his career ... Jets LB Calvin Pace has been fined $15,000 by the NFL for an illegal hit on Eagles QB Michael Vick last Sunday. Pace slammed into Vick as he threw a 26-yard TD to Brent Celek in the Eagles’ 45-19 victory, and was called for a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty ... Monday Night Football has come a long way from Hank Williams Jr. This coming Monday, the final MNF game of the season, featuring Atlanta at New Orleans, the opening segment will feature 89-year-old Betty White. Williams was given the boot at the beginning of the season following controversial remarks he made about President Barack Obama.


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