Thursday night's game isn't likely to be one Lardarius Webb remembers fondly.
The second-year cornerback, who got his first career interception last week against Miami, started opposite former Maryland star Josh Wilson, who officially made his first start of season.
But midway through the first quarter, the Ravens yanked Webb for two series, replacing him with a rotation of Chris Carr and Fabian Washington, in part because Falcons wide receiver Roddy White had beaten Webb on three crucial third-down plays.
Webb's biggest error in coverage came on the third play of the game, when the Ravens had the Falcons facing a third-and-17 at their 13 after a sack by linebacker Terrell Suggs. But White, who almost missed the game with a sore knee, ran a deep out on Webb, and Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan hit him in stride for a 28-yard gain.
Three plays later, White beat Webb again on a comeback route along the Ravens' sideline for a 7-yard gain on third--and-5, and Ravens coach John Harbaugh was all over Webb, jumping up in his face and imploring him to step up his coverage. Webb gave up another 5-yard catch to White on the next play — his fourth catch of that drive — and the Ravens pulled Webb from the game for a series.
He re-entered the game in the second quarter but then made an even bigger miscue on special teams. With five minutes remaining in the second quarter, Webb fielded a punt return and sprinted upfield, but he fumbled the ball while running through traffic. That gave the Falcons the ball at the Ravens' 43-yard line.
Webb then gave up a first-down catch to Brian Finneran on third-and-5 three plays later. He did help the Ravens hold the the Falcons out of the end zone, successfully defending a third-down pass in the back of the end zone to Finneran, but Falcons still turned his fumble into points when a 28-yard field goal from Matt Bryant gave them a 10-0 lead going into halftime.
In the locker room after the game, the frustration was obvious on Webb's face. Safety Ed Reed tried to encourage him, imploring him to not get too down on himself, but Webb barely moved a muscle. He fiddled with his purple tie and responded to answer questions with in clipped, monotone answers.
"Just didn't play well," Webb said. "Nothing else to say."
Asked what happened on the fumble, Webb was just as short.
"Just fumbled it," he said, shrugging his shoulders.
Harbaugh said he thought Webb played better in the second half after what was obviously an atypical performance.
"I think he shook it off in the second half pretty well," Harbaugh said. "He had a tough first half with the fumble, and a tough first half in coverage. He's a very talented guy. He should play with confidence."
Suggs gets moving
For the second straight week, the Ravens shifted Suggs around more on defense, lining him up on the right side on certain plays, dropping him into coverage on others and bringing him on pressure from the left side, and occasionally even up the middle.
Suggs flew by Falcons left tackle Sam Baker on the first drive of the game, sacking Ryan for a 10-yard loss; he also dropped Ryan in the third quarter, giving him 6.5 sacks on the season, one more than he had in 13 games in 2009.
Lewis OK with being No. 2
The game was the 203rd of Ray Lewis' career, a number that puts him 18th among all the players currently on an NFL roster. Lewis, who stated earlier in the week that he felt Thursday night games were unfair to the players because of the wear and tear playing two games in five days puts on their bodies, said it's remarkable how much bigger and faster players have become just during the 15 years he's been in the NFL.
"I think the whole game has just gotten faster," Lewis said. "Everything is just bigger; everything moves faster. Every transition, every year always changes even when you look at the players nowadays. You look at some of the linemen who played linemen back in the day, [and] they were linebacker sizes. And now, you look at linemen who play in today's times – much bigger, much faster."
Lewis didn't have any complaints about about being ranked the second-greatest linebacker on the NFL Network's list of the 100 Greatest Players of All Time, behind Dick Butkus of the Bears — even though if he plays two more seasons after this one, Lewis will have played in twice as many games as Butkus (119).
"It's just so hard to compare all of these different players because everybody was great in their time," Lewis said. "Everybody that's on that list was great during their time. If you compare it during [eras], 10 years or whatever it was, then I think that's a little easier. But when you go 40 or 50 years back and try to compare people to guys that are now playing, I don't know how it's fair."
The captains for the Ravens were Tavares Gooden, Michael Oher and Haloti Ngata. ... Ken Hamlin, Tom Zbikowski, Jason Phillips, Scott Kooistra, Arthur Jones, Dennis Pitta, Brandon McKinney and Lamar Divens were inactive.
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