Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs joked that he did not want to jinx himself before playing Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, which would mark the 229th game of his career. “What if I die today?” he quipped Wednesday.
Nothing nefarious befell the 36-year-old Suggs as the 16-year veteran broke a tie with retired middle linebacker Ray Lewis’ franchise record for games played. It’s another mark for the 2003 first-round draft selection, who is already the organization’s all-time leader in sacks (132½), sack yards (-944½) and forced fumbles (37).
Suggs, who is tied for second on the defense this season in sacks (seven) and returned a fumble 43 yards for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 25, said his longevity can be credited to a variety of sources.
“Well, I had some good mentors coming in,” he said Wednesday. “I think that was just by the grace of God, a lot of prayer, my coaches and the trainers keeping me healthy. A lot goes into it, not just film study.”
Cornerback Brandon Carr, who is no slouch at 11 years in the NFL, called Suggs’ career a “blessing.”
“We all want to have Pro Bowls and Super Bowls and things, but the main thing [is] we want to walk away from this game intact still,” he said Wednesday. “And he’s a guy that’s out there busting his tail each and every week, giving it his all, selling out for the team, playing through injuries. I think he does a great job off the field and throughout the week getting himself prepared for the grind of the season, for the grind of each and every game, taking care of his body and doing what it takes to be a pro.”
Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said he has not noticed a sense of urgency driving Suggs.
“I think the thing that keeps jumping out that I keep telling everybody here is, you all — and I don’t know if you hear me — you all know the character of ‘Sizz,’ and we know the leader,” he said Thursday. “That’s what jumps out to me, is in a situation like the game that we’re going into right now, his calmness, his leadership, his saying the right things, his perfect timing to the players, because you can’t always do it. We can’t always do it as coaches. But when he says something, I think the Matt Judons and the Za’Darius Smiths and everybody else listens.”
Potential bonuses await some Ravens
Eric Weddle had a million reasons to try to prod the Ravens into the postseason.
With a 26-24 win over the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens captured their first AFC North title since 2012, and the 33-year-old free safety earned a $1 million bonus triggered by the organization making the playoffs and him earning his sixth Pro Bowl invitation, which he did Dec. 18, according to ESPN. Weddle narrowly missed out on a similar incentive a year ago when the Cincinnati Bengals scored a touchdown on fourth-and-12 in the season finale to keep the Ravens out of the postseason.
Weddle was not the only player who entered Sunday with a chance to increase his base salary. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree needed six receptions to collect a $500,000 bonus, according to ESPN. He fell short, catching two passes for 20 yards.
And wide receiver John Brown needed three catches in the final two quarters to pick up the final $100,000 of a $400,000 incentive, according to ESPN. He also missed, finishing with one catch for 7 yards.
Career high for Dixon
Three weeks after setting a career high in rushing yards with 59 against the Kansas City Chiefs, running back Kenneth Dixon outdid himself Sunday, recording the first 100-yard output of his career with 117 yards on 12 carries.
“I’m definitely going to remember this one because it’s the first one with everything on the line,” the fourth-round pick of the 2016 NFL draft said. “As the saying goes, big-time players step up in big-time games. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Dixon, who has 289 yards on 47 attempts for a 6.1-yard average in the team’s past five games since being activated off injured reserve, credited running backs coach Thomas Hammock with maintaining his faith in him after he lost a fumble in the third quarter of last week’s win against the Los Angeles Chargers.
“I had a fumble last week in the critical situation, the first play of the half, and he told me, ‘You’ve got to work harder and protect the ball,’ ” he said. “That’s what I came out and did today.”
Breshad Perriman did not get a warm welcome from Ravens fans.
Perriman, a 2015 first-round pick who now plays for the Browns, was roundly booed after taking a reverse for 5 yards in the first quarter.
Perriman, who was waived by the Ravens on the final day of cuts Sept. 1, caught a 28-yard touchdown pass with 8:22 to go in the first quarter to put the Browns ahead 7-3. He also made a diving grab on the sideline on the Browns’ final drive, which was upheld after video review. He finished with three catches for 45 yards on four targets.
The Ravens paid tribute to the 1958 Baltimore Colts to celebrate that organization’s victory over the New York Giants in the first sudden-death playoff game. “The Greatest Game Ever Played” – as it is routinely called – ended with Baltimore capturing the NFL championship. The Colts were represented by halfbacks Jack Call and Lenny Moore, safety Andy Nelson, linebacker Leo Sanford and center Dick Szymanski attended Sunday’s game. The widows of fullback Alan Ameche (Yvonne), tight end Jim Mutscheller (Pert), offensive tackle Jim Parker (Esther) and quarterback Johnny Unitas (Sandy) also were there. … Cleveland deactivated defensive tackle Carl Davis, a former Raven, rookie left tackle Desmond Harrison, wide receiver Blake Jackson, center Kyle Kalis, quarterback Drew Stanton, rookie defensive end Chad Thomas and rookie cornerback Denzel Ward. Ward was ruled out Friday because of a concussion. … Middle linebacker C.J. Mosley, left tackle Ronnie Stanley, kicker Justin Tucker and right guard Marshal Yanda represented the Ravens for the pre-game coin toss, which was won by the Ravens. … Davon Fleming, a Baltimore native who advanced to the semifinals of “The Voice,” sang the national anthem.