By the numbers, the Ravens secondary appeared to be outplayed by Cincinnati Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, who threw for a career-high 373 yards in an eventual 31-24 loss to the Ravens Sunday.
But the defense did intercept Dalton three times. The offense turned two of those takeaways into touchdowns, and the third ended a promising Bengals drive just before halftime.
“We played OK,” said cornerback Lardarius Webb, who got one of those three interceptions. “I think we had some miscommunication, not communicating as well. We kind of gave them some things, just not them making plays. They’re a great team, making great passes. Dalton was better than we expected. We knew he was good, but not that good, and we’re going to have to see him again. We just have to get on the same page in the backfield. I don’t think it was all the way there today.”
Dalton completed six passes of 20 yards or more and three passes of at least 40 yards – the most allowed by the Ravens this season.
“He didn’t play like a rookie today,” cornerback Cary Williams said. “He played really well. That’s a testament to their scheme and what they came in and did. They played really well, but we came out on top.”
The defensive backs weren’t bad either. Williams broke up a team-high four passes, and the rest of the secondary combined for seven pass defenses.
Webb and rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith made interceptions that the offense converted into touchdowns, and free safety Ed Reed came away with his first interception since getting two in the season opener on Sept. 11, ending an eight-game interception drought.
“So long as we hold them, I couldn’t care less,” Reed said of his interception total of three, which is tied with Webb for the team lead. “Every team is not going to throw the ball my way. I’ve earned that respect. I’m [not trying] to pat myself on the back. I know it’s going to be like that. My thing is just to do my job and be where I’m supposed to be.”
The secondary gets a chance to redeem itself on Thanksgiving night against quarterback Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers. Smith ranks 23rd in passing yards (1,709), but he is tied with the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers for fewest interceptions (three) among starters and ranks seventh in passer rating (95.8).
Webb said the mistakes the defensive backs made are easily correctable.
“When you’ve got Ed Reed and [starting strong safety] Bernard Pollard, they can just go over there and say, ‘You be here. You be here next time,’” Webb said. “They are our safeties, and they know what they’re doing. We’ve got a short week, so we really have to correct these things tomorrow. But with them guys, it will be easy.”