First-round pick Jimmy Smith finally makes an impact for Ravens

Ravens outside linebacker

Terrell Suggs


joked that rookie cornerback

Jimmy Smith


finally earned the Ravens emblem on his helmet.

Smith, the team's first-round pick in April, finished with three tackles, one pass breakup and one interception that led to a

Ray Rice

touchdown in the Ravens' 31-24 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday.


It was quite a showing for Smith, who got more snaps as the third defensive back in the team's nickel package.

"It felt amazing to be out there and contribute to the team after such a long time of being out," said Smith, who had missed four games after suffering a high left ankle sprain in the season opener on Sept. 11. "It felt great out there."

Smith's biggest moment occurred in the third quarter when he stepped in front of an

Andy Dalton

pass intended for wide receiver

Andre Caldwell

at the Bengals' 32-yard line. Smith returned the interception 16 yards before Cincinnati's

Jerome Simpson

punched the ball out. Ravens inside linebacker

Brendon Ayanbadejo

pounced on the loose ball on the 2. On the ensuing play, Rice rumbled into the end zone to give the Ravens a 24-14 advantage.

"It was a Cover-2 call, and he tried to run the inside," Smith recalled. "As soon as I looked, the ball was right there. I got to show off my return skills a little bit, and then it came out. So the next time, I'll hit the sideline."

Smith did have his struggles; he could not keep up with Caldwell on a fade route, and Caldwell hauled in a 49-yard touchdown pass from Dalton to make the score 31-21 with 10:59 left in the game.

"We ran an all-out blitz, and on an all-out blitz, you're thinking something quick," Smith said. "He ended up running a fade. That's the weak spot in that defense."

Still, Smith earned rave reviews from his teammates.

"Jimmy came in and made a great play," cornerback

Lardarius Webb

said. "He grew up today. He really grew up. He started it off. He got that pick, really, at a perfect time."

"Calvin Johnson" rule bails out Ravens

The Ravens were the beneficiaries of a rule carved out almost 15 months ago.

In the 2010 season opener for the Detroit Lions, what appeared to be a game-winning touchdown catch by

Calvin Johnson

was overturned when officials ruled that the wide receiver did not control the ball to the ground.

Late in the fourth quarter, Bengals tight end

Jermaine Gresham

caught a juggling pass and crossed the goal line with both feet in-bounds, but when he was tackled to the turf by cornerback

Cary Williams

, Gresham placed the ball on the ground and lost possession of it. That, according to referee

Ron Winter

, made the catch an incompletion.

"When the receiver went to the ground, he had the ball in his right hand, the ball touched the ground, and his hand came off the ball by about [an inch], and he then re-grasped it and brought it in," Winter told a pool reporter after the game.

When asked if it mattered when Gresham crossed the goal line, Winter replied, "When he's going to the ground, he has to maintain control of the ball throughout the process of the catch. So when he goes to the ground, he can't have the ball touch the ground and have him lose control."

Evans plays for first time in eight weeks

Wide receiver

Lee Evans

returned for the first time since Sept. 18 against the Tennessee Titans, lining up against the Bengals when the offense went to a three-receiver set.


Torrey Smith

made his eighth consecutive start, catching six passes for 165 yards and one touchdown, while Evans, who sat out seven consecutive game due to a left ankle injury, was targeted once without catching a pass.

"Yeah, it was good to be out there," said Evans, who had been listed as questionable after practicing all three days on a limited basis last week. "Better yet, it was good to get a win. That's the best part about it, to be out there. On a personal level, I didn't really get a chance to make any plays, but we got the win, and that's all that matters."

D. Reed takes a seat

A week after losing two fumbles on kick returns that led to field goals in Sunday's 22-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, wide receiver/kick returner

David Reed

was deactivated and did not play.

Reed, who had fumbled three times on kick returns in his previous two games, was not available for comment after the game.

Strong safety

Tom Zbikowski

returned one kick for 26 yards before absorbing a big hit by safety

Taylor Mays


Chris Carr


Lardarius Webb

shared kick return duties fore the rest of the contest.

End zone

Ravens outside linebacker

Jarret Johnson

overtook former defensive end

Michael McCrary

and former linebacker

Jamie Sharper

as the franchise's all-time leader in consecutive starts with his 74th straight start Sunday. Johnson is already the Ravens' leader in consecutive games played with 123. … Former kicker

Matt Stover

became the seventh inductee to the Ring of Honor at M&T Bank Stadium during halftime. "It's been a privilege to be here with you, and it's been a privilege to serve you on the field," Stover said. "… The last thing I want to say is when my name goes up there, your name goes up there, too. Thank you, Baltimore." … In addition to inside linebacker

Ray Lewis

(toe) and Reed, the Ravens also scratched defensive tackle

Arthur Jones

(head), outside linebacker

Sergio Kindle

, rookie running back

Anthony Allen

(thigh), rookie cornerback

Chykie Brown

and rookie wide receiver

Tandon Doss

. … The Bengals played without rookie starting wide receiver

A.J. Green

, who was deactivated after missing practice last week due to a hyperextended right knee suffered in last Sunday's 24-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. … Cincinnati also scratched safety

Robert Sands

, linebacker

Dontay Moch

, guard

Clint Boling

, offensive tackle

Anthony Collins

, tight end

Donald Lee

and wide receiver

Ryan Whalen

. … Safeties

Bernard Pollard


Haruki Nakamura

and running back

Ray Rice

represented the Ravens for the coin toss.