Ravens inside linebacker Mike Caldwell has been here before, and he didn't like the trip the first time around.
Caldwell got off to an excellent start in 1996 before he injured his right knee in the third game against Houston. After having arthroscopic surgery, he missed the next four games, then returned to action against the St. Louis Rams on Oct. 27.
By then, the Ravens had switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4, but upon his return, Caldwell barely missed a beat as a tackler or a pass rusher. Midway through the third quarter of the Ravens' 31-17 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday, Caldwell reinjured the knee.
Trainer Bill Tessendorf said Caldwell, a fourth-year player having his best season, will need surgery again to remove loose cartilage in his knee. Tessendorf said Caldwell can continue playing, then have the surgery after the season.
"Somebody fell on me. I heard a pop," Caldwell said. "I feel like I've taken a giant step backward."
Despite missing four of 13 games, Caldwell is the Ravens' fourth-leading tackler with 71, including 48 solo. He leads the team with 4 1/2 sacks, and has dropped opposing ball carriers for a team-high 35.5 yards in losses.
Redemption for secondary
Until Sunday's upset, the season basically had been a week-to-week struggle for the Ravens' secondary. Their defensive backs erased much frustration with their best effort of the season.
Cornerback Antonio Langham led the way with seven solo tackles, three batted passes, and his best man-to-man coverage of the season. Free safety Eric Turner contributed five tackles and three pass deflections, including a critical fourth-down deflection midway through the fourth quarter. Cornerback Donny Brady knocked down a pass on the Steelers' last play from scrimmage. Reserve safety Vashone Adams deflected a pass in the fourth quarter.
"We did a good job getting off the field on third down. We let them drive on us, but we didn't give up big plays," said strong safety Stevon Moore, who had seven tackles and a pass deflection. "We built some momentum, and guys fed off of it, like catching a cold.
"We played with aggression, we played with confidence, and we had fun. I've missed that feeling. It was great to get it back. Hopefully, we can build on this."
So ecstatic that it hurts
To say center Steve Everitt was thrilled to be back in the lineup would hardly be an understatement. After playing a fine second quarter, in which he returned from a five-game absence by controlling Pittsburgh nose tackle Joel Steed during the Ravens' 17-point period, Everitt got a little caught up in the moment running off the field at halftime. He pumped both of his raised arms, and aggravated the torn pectoral muscle that originally put him on the sidelines.
After getting some treatment in the locker room, Everitt rested for the third quarter before taking the field for the final eight minutes, when the Ravens went to running back Bam Morris and a smash-mouth football strategy to protect their lead.
"It was cool to be out there again," said Everitt, who took out defensive end Brentson Buckner on Earnest Byner's 7-yard touchdown run in the second period.
"It was great to get out there and stay out there at the end to close the deal, instead of standing on the sideline praying for the defense to make a play."
Woodson taken down notch
The Ravens took turns abusing Pittsburgh cornerback Rod Woodson, a six-time All-Pro who was voted to the NFL's 75th anniversary all-time team.
First, wide receiver Derrick Alexander beat Woodson badly with a head fake in the second quarter. Woodson missed the tackle on a play that went for 53 yards. A little later, Woodson lost receiver Floyd Turner in similar fashion on a 12-yard pass play. Then, in the fourth quarter, Morris plowed over Woodson on a 14-yard run that set up the Ravens' final score, a 3-yard touchdown pass from Vinny Testaverde to Eric Green.
"Like somebody told me a long time ago, you can only live off a reputation for so long," Turner said.
Pub Date: 12/03/96