"We just have to keep going out there and preparing for the team and keep executing and keep going out there and having fun," (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)
After going largely unnoticed in the first three quarters of the Ravens’ 34-17 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Matthew Judon made their presence known in the final frame.
For the first time in his 16-year career, Suggs returned a fumble for a touchdown, going 43 yards in the fourth quarter.
Suggs was the beneficiary of a sack and strip by Judon on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Suggs scooped up the loose ball, rumbled down the right sideline, and managed to outrace rookie wide receiver Marcell Ateman to the end zone with 5:55 left in regulation.
“It seemed like it took forever to get there,” said Suggs, who returned two interceptions for scores in 2008. “I was in disbelief. I was like, ‘This is for sure going to get called back.’ Once the defense was celebrating with me, I was like, ‘Oh, this counts. OK, cool.’ But I had nothing in the tank. I was gassed.”
Judon got to Carr on three consecutive offensive snaps. After his sack-and-strip, Judon took down Carr for losses of 7 and 5 yards on first and second down, respectively. After the third sack, Judon playfully raced into the tunnel leading back to the Ravens locker room before returning to the sideline.
“As a pass rusher, you never get discouraged,” said Judon, who raised his season sack total to six and has 4½ sacks in his past three games. “They said they’d come in bunches, and so I just kept rushing the passer. I didn’t know when it was coming. I hoped it was coming, and I got a couple today.”
Suggs' fumble recovery ended a stretch of 18 straight quarters without a takeaway for the Ravens that began against the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 21.
Jefferson in walking boot
Strong safety Tony Jefferson wore a walking boot to protect the left ankle that got caught under an Oakland offensive lineman during the second quarter. Jefferson attempted to return a few plays later, but crumpled to the turf again. He was later ruled out for the remainder of the game.
Jefferson, who was replaced by Chuck Clark,had entered the game ranked second on the defense in tackles (60) and is the only player on the team with one sack, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Jefferson said it was “too early” to determine whether the injury is serious. Asked whether he was worried about missing extended time, he replied, “I never worry about that.”
On Wednesday, wide receiver Michael Crabtree diplomatically declined to engage in any appearance of bitterness toward the Raiders for not retaining him in the offseason.
After catching an 8-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson in the fourth quarter, Crabtree said he continues to have no ill will against his former employer.
“I feel like the same against everybody,” said Crabtree, who finished with three receptions for 21 yards, but caught his first touchdown pass since Oct. 14 in a 21-0 shutout victory at the Tennessee Titans. “I don’t think as a player, you can get too caught up in that. It’s more of a mental thing. I have nothing against the Raiders. I’ve got love for them upstairs. [Raiders owner] Mark Davis, I’ve got nothing but love for him. Like I said, ain’t [got] no bad blood for anybody. I just go out here and play ball and do my job.”
Marshal Yanda is one of the last Ravens players to allow his emotions to bubble over, but there he was in the fourth quarter angrily pulling his right arm away from head athletic trainer Ron Medlin after an NFL official had ordered that the right guard undergo an examination for a potential concussion in the fourth quarter.
Yanda was eventually cleared and returned to the game, but he explained that he was simply adjusting his face mask, which appeared as if he was grabbing his head. Yanda said he also got rolled up on during the previous play and began moving his knees around, which someone interpreted as him being wobbly.
“I already gave Ron Medlin a big hug because I love the guy. Just a little bit of friendly fire,” he said. “I mean, adrenaline’s pumping, you’re fired up, you just don’t want to come out of the game at all costs. That was a third down, and I just wanted to be out there, but after they explained everything to me, I understand now. Again, it’s the perfect storm where I pulled my helmet down to get my chinstrap readjusted, and I got up, and I was checking my knees.”
Edwards gets first career start
The Ravens’ decision to deactivate running back Alex Collins before the game because of a foot ailment opened the door for undrafted rookie Gus Edwards to make the first start of his career.
After rushing for 115 yards for an average of 6.8 yards per touch, scoring his first touchdown on an 11-yard run, and then adding a 2-point conversion in the third quarter of a 24-21 win against the Cincinnati Bengals a week ago, Edwards ran for 118 yards on 23 carries, becoming the first Ravens player with back-to-back 100-yards games since Justin Forsett went for 150 and 121 yards in weeks 4 and 5 in 2015 and the first Ravens rookie since Jamal Lewis gained 187 and 170 yards in weeks 12 and 13 in 2000.
“I’m just happy that I’m able to contribute to where I’m able to get out there and help the team,” Edwards said, adding that he was unaware he would start until he arrived at the stadium Sunday morning.
» In addition to Collins, the Ravens deactivated quarterback Joe Flacco (right hip), right tackle James Hurst (back), rookie wide receiver Jordan Lasley, rookie defensive tackle Zach Sieler, outside linebacker Tim Williams (right ankle) and slot cornerback Tavon Young (groin).
» Left guard Alex Lewis made his ninth start of the season despite a shoulder ailment that sidelined him for Friday’s session and limited him Thursday. He left in the third quarter because of a stinger and was placed in concussion protocol. He was briefly replaced by rookie Bradley Bozeman before returning to the game.
» Oakland scratched offensive linemen Denver Kirkland, Justin Murray and Ian Silberman, defensive end Fadol Brown, wide receiver Martavis Bryant (knee), cornerback Leon Hall (back) and linebacker Emmanuel Lamur.
» Crabtree, cornerback Brandon Carr, middle linebacker C.J. Mosley and kicker Justin Tucker represented the Ravens for the pre-game coin toss, which was won by the Ravens.