By Matt Vensel
9:37 AM EDT, September 9, 2013
One might think it would be tough to find a positive in the Ravens secondary after Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning threw for seven touchdowns Thursday night.
After all, Corey Graham had his rockiest game with the Ravens, Michael Huff did not cover or tackle well and Jimmy Smith got beat for a touchdown, too.
But in his return to a real game after his second anterior cruciate ligament injury in four years, Lardarius Webb gave the Ravens a little something to feel good about by playing 62 of the 71 defensive snaps against the Broncos -- and playing well.
At different points in the 49-27 loss, Webb was matched up with each of Denver’s big three wide receivers. He was usually on the outside against Demaryius Thomas or Eric Decker. And he also got some snaps in the slot after Graham struggled to keep up with Wes Welker.
According to Pro Football Focus, when Webb was covering one of those three wide receivers, he was targeted five times. He allowed no competitions and batted down one pass.
There was one play where Webb and Graham got crossed up and left Welker open in the end zone for his second touchdown, but Pro Football Focus pinned that miscue on Graham.
They said the only completion Webb allowed was an 8-yard completion to Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno. That's a minuscule number of the 462 passing yards Manning piled up while tying the NFL record for touchdown passes in a game.
Either way, Webb fared well by any defensive back’s standards, not just one who came back from a major knee injury. He was tested by the NFL’s top trio of wide receivers, each of them giving Webb a different challenge -- Thomas with his deep speed, Welker with his shiftiness in the slot and Decker with a big frame that makes him a threat in the red zone.
We will talk a lot this week about the struggles of the secondary, probably Graham and Huff in particular. Rightfully so. But it wasn’t all bad. Webb’s play is something to feel good about.
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