Ravens ready for five-game sprint to end regular season

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As a reward for playing twice in five days, the Baltimore Ravens got the weekend off to collect their thoughts, get healthy and ready themselves for an important stretch run to end the regular season.

The Ravens (8-3) beat Cincinnati 31-24 and San Francisco 16-6 on Thanksgiving to ascend to the top of the AFC North. Baltimore is tied with Pittsburgh, but the Ravens hold the tiebreaker by virtue of sweeping the season series with the Steelers.

Their next four games are against teams with losing records, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Baltimore’s three losses followed significant victories and occurred on the road against sub-.500 teams. The Ravens are determined to break the trend this Sunday at Cleveland (4-7).

“It doesn’t matter how many wins and losses they have,” linebacker Jarret Johnson said Monday. “They always play good against us. It’s going to be a dogfight, so we better bring it.”

Steelers’ Polamalu leaves early with head injury

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu suffered a concussion during the first quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 13-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night.

Polamalu was hurt when he tackled 290-pound Chiefs offensive tackle Steve Maneri, who had caught a pass in the flat after lining up in the backfield. There is no word whether he will be able to play Sunday against Cincinnati.

Ben Roethlisberger, playing with a broken thumb, was 21 of 31 for 193 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted once.

Around the league

• PACKERS: Green Bay linebacker Erik Walden was released from jail Monday after spending the weekend behind bars following his arrest on suspicion of domestic violence. Walden was arrested Friday in Brown County on suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend at their apartment near Green Bay.

JETS: New York released safety Emanuel Cook and will promote safety Tracy Wilson from the practice squad. Cook, signed last December for his fourth stint with the Jets, played primarily on special teams. He had five tackles this season, all on special teams.

BROWNS: Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita will have surgery on his broken hand and may be done for the season. Fujita broke his right hand in two places in Sunday’s 23-20 loss at Cincinnati…. Running back Peyton Hillis (19 carries, 65 yards) did not have any setbacks in his first game in six weeks.

SEAHAWKS: Seattle put backup linebacker and special teams standout David Vobora on injured reserve with an apparent shoulder injury. Vobora was seen in the locker room after Sunday’s 23-17 loss to Washington with a wrap on his left shoulder, but the team did not specify his injury.

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