By Edward Lee
6:00 AM EST, December 20, 2011
Ray Lewis’ first game since suffering a turf toe injury on his right foot played out in typical fashion with the 12-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker leading the Ravens in tackles in Sunday night’s 34-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers.
After the contest, Lewis spoke about playing for the first time since Nov. 13 when he sustained the injury in a 22-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
“I felt good,” he said. “I never injured myself one time, and I take my hat off to this organization because we made some real hard decisions the last couple of weeks [of] if I should or should not play. I came out totally healthy, and I’m excited because in the long run, when you sit back and watch our team, we get to go back home to do some special things coming up this next couple of weeks. For me personally, I think I came out really healthy, and I’m very excited.”
Asked to put a percentage on the health of the toe, Lewis replied, “I’m definitely 95 to 100 percent, and I’m not even worried about it.”
Despite Lewis’ return, the defense did not perform to its usual high standards. During Lewis’ four-game absence, the unit surrendered an average of 12.5 points, 15 first downs and 263.3 yards of offense.
In Sunday’s loss, the Ravens allowed a season-worst 34 points, 23 first downs (which tied a season high set by the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 20) and 415 yards.
During his weekly news conference Monday, coach John Harbaugh dismissed the notion that the defense suffered a letdown with Lewis’ return.
“No. I really don’t think so,” Harbaugh said. “It’s an interesting concept, but I don’t think they let down for that reason. I think they can just play better.”
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