"You're going up against one of the more prolific bull rushers [James Harrison] or strong edge players in the whole NFL," said Ravens' Ronnie Stanley when asked about the Steelers pass rush. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
There won't be much for Ronnie Stanley to remember about his return from a four-game absence.
The Ravens rookie left tackle struggled in his first contest in more than a month. He committed a game-high four penalties in Sunday's 21-14 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium and allowed outside linebacker James Harrison to sack quarterback Joe Flacco twice in the second half.
"It was fight out there, and we got the win, and that's what really matters," Stanley said. "But yeah, I know I can play better."
The sixth overall pick of the 2016 NFL draft had not played since a 19-17 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 25 because of a foot injury. The team lost all four games Stanley missed, and his return as well as right guard Marshal Yanda's from a shoulder injury suggested that the offensive line would be able to open running lanes for running back Terrance West and keep Flacco upright.
Stanley's troubles began in the first quarter when he was flagged for illegal use of the hands while trying to prevent inside linebacker Ryan Shazier from pressuring Flacco. In the next period, he was caught for holding twice.
In the third quarter, Stanley was cited for holding for the third time on the offense's first play. Then Harrison beat Stanley to sack Flacco, although that was as much on Flacco for holding onto the ball too long. Later in the quarter, Harrison ran wide past Stanley and stripped Flacco of the ball as he reared back. Yanda recovered the fumble to prevent further damage.
Coach John Harbaugh chalked up Stanley's mistakes to his recent inactivity.
"He hasn't played for a long time, and he's a rookie," Harbaugh said. "And he's going against good players. His footwork is really important, and his footwork wasn't right like it needed to be, and it got him in some awkward positions, and he grabbed people. I'll have to see the tape to see if it was a smart thing to do or not. But he's capable of playing much better with his feet."
Stanley said the combination of rust and tough competition made for a tough day.
"I was coming off of missing four games and really fighting just to play in this game. And once you're in the game, you're going against one of the more prolific bull rushers and strong edge players in the whole NFL," he said of Harrison, a 38-year old, five-time Pro Bowl selection. "He's been doing it for years. It was definitely a good challenge for myself and the offense."