A reshuffled offensive line didn't seem to impede the Ravens in their explosive 37-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome Sunday.
In fact, inserting Andre Gurode at left guard instead of Mark LeVoir seemed to be the antidote the front five needed after last Sunday's 26-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Unlike that outing, the offensive line contributed to 553 yards of total offense, opened rushing lanes for tailbacks Ray Rice and Ricky Williams to combine for an average of 9.3 yards per carry (121 yards on 13 attempts), and gave quarterback Joe Flacco enough time to find rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith for 152 yards and three touchdowns.
"The pass protection really was good," coach John Harbaugh said. "That's a credit really to the communication between [center] Matt [Birk] and the line."
Gurode started at left guard because both Ben Grubbs and LeVoir were deactivated prior to the game.
"When you look at it, we did a good job today," said Gurode, a five-time Pro Bowl center who hadn't played guard since 2004 when he was a member of the Dallas Cowboys. "We'll enjoy it for 24 hours, and we'll get ready for the next game."
Flacco was sacked twice, but those didn't occur until the fourth quarter and were a result of the quarterback holding onto the ball a little too long. Right tackle Michael Oher said the offensive line is still developing its chemistry.
"Still getting better," he said. "It's a work in progress. It's just a week-in, week-out thing. Just getting better at practice every week."
Cundiff's uneven day
In the end, Billy Cundiff made three straight field goals and finished with four touchbacks on six attempts.
But the Pro Bowl kicker's day got off to a rough start when back-to-back field goal attempts of 51 yards strayed wide right. His first unsuccessful try snapped a streak of 18 consecutive field goals (22 including the postseason).
Cundiff, who hadn't missed two field goals in a game since Jan. 3, 2010 when he went 0-for-2 against the Oakland Raiders, said the second missed attempt from 51 was the most frustrating because he tried to finesse the ball inside the right post.
"And that's very frustrating because I felt like for me and where I'm at in my career, I shouldn't be hitting that kind of ball," Cundiff said. "Obviously, I got two other chances that were closer, but for me, it was a good chance to go out there and say, 'Look, those last two kicks, they weren't me,' and then go out there and recommit to my fundamentals."
Oher's penalty troubles
As he promised, Oher shed his reputation — at least for one game — for moving early by not getting flagged for a false start Sunday.
But the right tackle was cited for holding and illegal use of hands (hands on the facemask) in the first quarter. Oher expressed puzzlement over the latter penalty.
"I didn't think I had my hands on his face," he said. "I've just got to watch film and see what I did."
L. Williams takes over kick returns
Rookie wide receiver LaQuan Williams not only caught his first pass, but he also became the primary kick returner.
The undrafted free agent from the University of Maryland returned two kickoffs for a total of 60 yards, including a 37-yarder on his first return to open the second half.
"I was comfortable," said Williams, who caught one pass for seven yards. "I was just looking for an opening so I could hit it hard."
Safety Haruki Nakamura is scheduled to undergo a MRI exam on the posterior cruciate ligament in his right leg that was injured during a punt return in the first quarter. "There's actually no pain," said Nakamura, who did not return to the game. "It's just really stiff more than anything." … Starting wide receiver Lee Evans (left ankle) agreed with the team's decision to scratch him, saying, "The goal is to get healthy, and we came to the conclusion that I probably wasn't going to get all the way healthy by playing on it. So resting it is the best way to go, and hopefully, we can clear it up." … Cornerback Domonique Foxworth said he wasn't shocked when the team elected to deactivate him after Harbaugh mentioned Foxworth as a candidate to take some time to further rehabilitate his surgically-repaired right knee. "It hurts like hell," he said. "I've been fighting through it." Foxworth's absence was offset by the return of cornerback Chris Carr, who did not play last Sunday due to a left hamstring injury. … In addition to Grubbs (sprained ligaments in toe) and LeVoir, the Ravens also scratched wide receiver David Reed (left shoulder strain), rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith (high left ankle sprain) and outside linebacker Sergio Kindle. … Rookie wide receiver Tandon Doss was active for the first time this season. … The big news for St. Louis was the return of running back Steven Jackson. Despite a strained quad that kept him out of last Sunday's 28-16 loss to the New York Giants, Jackson started. The Rams deactivated wide receivers Danny Amendola (dislocated left elbow) and rookie Greg Salas (ribs), safety Jermale Hines, running back Quinn Porter, linebacker Jabara Williams, tight end Stephen Spach and defensive end C.J. Ah You (wrist). … Linebackers Terrell Suggs and Dannell Ellerbe and Rice represented the Ravens for the coin toss.
Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.