"For us to come up with this victory is obviously very satisfying," said coach John Harbaugh after his teams 19-14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. (Kevin Richardson)
Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil had been on the same field in two games earlier this season. But in Sunday's 19-14 win against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens got a glimpse of the outside linebackers' abilities when healthy.
Suggs registered two sacks, another tackle, two forced fumbles, and one batted pass despite being just five games removed from tearing his left biceps. Dumervil, in his first game since Oct. 9 because of a foot injury, recovered a fumble in the second quarter and strip-sacked Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton with 1 minute, 5 seconds left in the fourth quarter to cement the victory.
Their play energized their teammates, especially on defense.
"They did a great job setting the edge," inside linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "Two sacks, two fumbles, making plays all over the field [for Suggs]. Dumervil made that last big play. That forced fumble was huge. It was great to have him back on the edge."
Suggs continues to spark the defense's pass rush, increasing his team lead in sacks to eight and moving into the top 10 in the NFL in that department. Suggs did not talk much about his performance, but others, such as strong safety Eric Weddle, did.
"Sizz played outstanding again, not only getting after the quarterback but in the run game, his leadership," Weddle said, referring to Suggs' "Sizzle" nickname. "It's definitely nice to rely on somebody like that and to look at him and be like, 'Yo, we need a play.' It's great to have a guy like that."
Much of the talk after the game centered on Dumervil, who had sat out eight of 10 games this fall, including the past five because of an injury related to foot surgery he underwent in the offseason. He practiced fully three days last week, but had been listed as "questionable."
His first significant contribution occurred in the second quarter, when he pounced on a botched shotgun snap between Bengals center Russell Bodine and Dalton on third-and-7 from the Ravens' 16-yard line.
Then, on his game-sealing play on third-and-10 at the Ravens' 16, Dumervil sprinted past right tackle Eric Winston and stuck out his right arm to rake the ball from Dalton's grasp. The ball bounced to defensive end Lawrence Guy, and the Ravens could breathe again.
"It was a great start," said Dumervil, who posted his first sack since Nov. 30 at the Cleveland Browns. "We still have five games left in the regular season. It's going to come down to the last game of the season, I'm sure. We've just got to make sure that we keep getting better. Me personally, there's a lot I can get better at. I'm still rusty a bit, but I'm fine-tuning things, and hopefully I can be peaking at the right time."
Dumervil said his foot has gotten stronger since his first attempt at returning, when he played in back-to-back games against the Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins on Oct. 2 and Oct. 9, respectively.
Coach John Harbaugh said it was enormously gratifying to see Dumervil overcome the foot ailment.
"For him to come out and fight through this thing — which was such a disappointment that he wasn't out there earlier in the year — sometimes you have setbacks and things like that with your rehab," Harbaugh said. "[He] kept working. [He] rededicated himself. We put a new program in about six weeks ago, and he went to work on it and got back. For him to play so well is satisfying for him, I'm sure, but it's really satisfying for me and everyone else, too. We're happy to have him back."
With cornerback Jimmy Smith on the mend after missing the past two games because of a back injury, a steady pass rush could make life easier for the secondary. Dumervil is hopeful that he and Suggs can help provide a lift in that area.
"It has been a while since we both have been really healthy," Dumervil said. "Our coverage was good today. Hopefully, when we get Jimmy Smith back, it will be awesome."