Prior to the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, cornerback Lardarius Webb had insisted that he had forgotten his performance in the Ravens' seven-point loss to the Steelers in the AFC divisional round last January. His coaches apparently did the same.
Webb joined Cary Williams as a starter in the team's 35-7 demolition of Pittsburgh Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. Webb led the Ravens in tackles (11), broke up two passes, and split a sack with outside linebacker Jarret Johnson.
"I worked my butt off during the lockout, I worked my butt off during training camp, and I worked my butt off this week to ensure that I was going to start," Webb said. "But we're just beginning. They're still working with me, they're still getting me better."
Williams made five tackles and broke up one pass, and Domonique Foxworth finished with one tackle. Their play was critical, as cornerback Chris Carr re-aggravated a left hamstring injury in the second quarter and rookie Jimmy Smith sprained his left ankle while covering the Ravens' first kickoff in the first quarter.
Neither player returned and both declined to comment on their injuries.
Smith, who wore a protective brace around the foot and ankle, used crutches to leave the locker room. X-rays on Smith's ankle did not reveal a fracture, according to a team official.
But another team official mentioned the possibility that Smith may have suffered a high ankle sprain, which could keep him out of the lineup for a few weeks.
So the once enviable depth the Ravens had at cornerback is now under duress. If Smith and/or Carr cannot play in Sunday's contest against the Tennessee Titans, rookie Chykie Brown, who was deactivated prior to Sunday's game, could suit up.
Williams insisted that injuries would not adversely impact the cornerbacks' play.
"I just feel like if there's a guy who goes down, I think we have the ability to have five starters," he said. "… I think it doesn't matter if one guy goes down. We're just going to try to feed off each other and pick up where one left off because it's a team effort."
No disrespect intended
When the Ravens opened the third quarter with an 18-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Joe Flacco to tight end Ed Dickson with just 21 seconds elapsed in the second half, conventional wisdom called for Billy Cundiff to kick the extra point.
But the team called for a two-point conversion, and holder Sam Koch's saunter into the end zone through the left side of the line put an exclamation point on the victory. But Koch insisted that the play was not designed to pour salt in the Steelers' wounds.
"You've got the Steelers and the Ravens, which is such a bitter rivalry year-in and year-out," he said. "Rubbing it in their faces is definitely not the answer because you never know what can happen. You never know when a game can change or the momentum, especially in a game against the Steelers. It was just a way to add more points and give us a more comfortable lead."
E. Reed picks up where he left off
After leading the NFL in interceptions with eight last season, free safety Ed Reed continued his ball-hawking ways, intercepting Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger twice.
It's the 13th time in the seven-time Pro Bowler's career that he had pulled in at least two interceptions in a game, which leads all active players. And Reed did it on his 33rd birthday.
"Just winning was enough for me," said Reed, who is the franchise leader with 56 career interceptions. "That was the best present I could have. It's just a blessing to be playing a child's game at this point of my career, my life."
The Ravens' tribute to 9/11 included a minute of silence, a jet flyover and an American flag that stretched the length of the field and was held by American military and law-enforcement personnel along with Ravens and Steelers players and coaches.
"When the jets flew over, is there anyone who didn't get choked up?" coach John Harbaugh asked. "We were in church last night over at St. Mary's, and they played 'America the Beautiful' to end the church. I couldn't sing it. It wasn't because I couldn't read it either. I couldn't read it, but I couldn't sing it. This is a great day for America."
Added wide receiver Anquan Boldin: "It was a nice tribute. There were a lot of people that lost their lives. I think there's a lot of people in this locker room whose lives were affected one way or another."
The Ravens opened the season without outside linebacker Sergio Kindle and rookie wide receiver Tandon Doss. Both players were scratched prior to Sunday's contest. The team also deactivated linebackers Jason Phillips and Michael McAdoo, nose tackle Brandon McKinney, center Bryan Mattison and rookie cornerback Brown. Phillips was the only injury concern as he was questionable after suffering a concussion during practice earlier in the week. … The Steelers deactivated wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who had missed two consecutive practices last week. Cotchery, who has been bothered by a hamstring injury, was listed as doubtful. Pittsburgh also deactivated cornerback Curtis Brown, linebacker Chris Carter (hamstring), quarterback Dennis Dixon, running back Jonathan Dwyer, guard Ramon Foster and offensive tackle Chris Scott. … Linebackers Ray Lewis and Brendon Ayanbadejo and quarterback Joe Flacco represented the Ravens for the coin toss.