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At 35, Ravens rush linebacker Terrell Suggs proves he is still a game-changer

"We going to enjoy the win, but we know we're better than 80 yards in penalties," said rush linebacker Terrell Suggs. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)

When the Ravens needed a play to spark a lethargic effort in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s game against the Houston Texans, they got one from the third-oldest player on their roster.

Rush linebacker Terrell Suggs sacked and stripped Houston quarterback Tom Savage and defensive tackle Willie Henry recovered the loose ball at the Texans’ 49-yard line with 4:44 left in the game. Six plays and 18 yards later, Justin Tucker kicked a 49-yard field goal for the 23-16 final score.

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Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins exploited the defense for 125 yards on seven catches, but Suggs credited the secondary with staying with him long enough for him to dislodge the ball from Savage’s right hand as he set up to throw.

“We had him covered, and I was just able to get there and make a play,” Suggs said. “So it was a collective effort defensively.”

Suggs attributed his ability to strip quarterbacks to advice a former teammate gave him in his rookie year in 2003.

“Ray [Lewis], my rookie year, I was getting some sacks, but I wasn’t stripping the ball, and every time I got a sack, he used to come and [say], ‘Sizzle, get the ball. Sizzle, I want the ball,’ ” Suggs recalled. “He used to always say that to me. … I missed one tonight going for the ball. Every time I’m getting ready to get the ball, I can hear Ray Lewis saying, ‘Sizzle, get the ball. I want the ball.’ ”

With the game hanging in the balance, the Ravens forced two turnovers in the final five minutes to help the Ravens hold on for a 23-16 victory over the Texans.

Suggs, who finished the night with two sacks, has five in his past three starts and two forced fumbles in his past two games. He leads the defense in sacks with 9½ and forced fumbles with four.

Coach John Harbaugh quipped that the name on the back of Suggs’ jersey should be replaced with “Ponce de Leon” because the linebacker has discovered the Fountain of Youth to remain effective at the age of 35.

“He’s playing as well or better than I’ve seen him ever play since I have been here,” Harbaugh said. “He has always played great. Maybe it’s just because I’m seeing it this year, but he can close on a quarterback. He gets an edge on a block, and he goes from here to there to get the quarterback. You don’t see guys his age do that.”

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