OWINGS MILLS — As star middle linebacker Ray Lewis reached the sidelines Sunday following his dramatic, game-preserving tackle on San Diego Chargers running back Darren Sproles, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh delivered an enthusiastic message to the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
"We’re not paying you enough,” Harbaugh told Lewis.
Later, Harbaugh characterized the big hit as the "greatest football play I’ve ever seen."
Whether that was the emotion of a dramatic early-season win influencing Harbaugh, he didn’t back off that opinion Monday.
"I’m trying to think of a bigger one," Harbaugh said. "I guess it’s as big as it is to the people involved in it. David Tyree’s play was probably better for the Giants, but I wasn’t on the Giants so I didn’t really care.
“This game mattered, that play mattered to us. It mattered to the Ravens. I felt that way yesterday, I feel that way today."
Lewis’ tackle of Sproles on 4th-and-2 at the Ravens’ 15-yard line with the Chargers needing a touchdown to win the game has been replayed countless times on highlight shows.
In Lewis’ estimation, it was the top play of his career.
"That was a pretty special play," Harbaugh said. "When you take into account the moment, like Ray said, a play had to be made by them or by us.
REDEMPTION: Frank Walker was roundly criticized throughout the preseason for his shoddy coverage as he was routinely targeted by opposing quarterbacks.
The veteran reserve cornerback was staunchly defended at the time by Harbaugh, who referenced how Walker had held up well in key games against the Pittsburgh Steelers last season.
Now, Harbaugh’s confidence in Walker was borne out with his key pass deflection in the final minute of the fourth quarter after he replaced cornerback Fabian Washington when Washington left the game with a concussion.
Walker knocked the football away from Chargers wide receiver Legedu Naanee by the end zone when the football was grazing Naanee’s hands.
If Naanee catches that touchdown, the Ravens potentially lose the game.
"We’ve said all along: Frank can play," Harbaugh said. "It’s the NFL, and Frank can cover. Frank’s going to play a lot of football. That was a great play.
"Talk about the big, tall receiver. I mean, he went up and got that ball out of the catch pocket about as well as you can do it. That was a huge play for us."
Walker said that he expected the Chargers to run a fade pattern.
"They had been throwing jump balls all game," he said. "The best thing is to knock it down when you can’t make a play. That’s what we do. This defense figures out a way to win."
INJURY UPDATE: Harbaugh was noncommittal on whether Washington will be in the lineup this week against the Cleveland Browns.
Washington was helped off the field when he tackled Sproles and his helmet collided with Sproles’ leg on a tackle midway through the fourth quarter.
"He’ll have a chance to play this week," Harbaugh said. "We’ll see. He seemed okay. That stuff all comes down to those tests that they do. I haven’t heard what the tests are yet."
After the game, Washington seemed disoriented and said that it was the first concussion of his career.
Meanwhile, tight end L.J. Smith was held out of the game with a pulled left hamstring after the Ravens came to the realization that his leg wasn’t going to make it through the entire game after observing him during warm-up drills.
"It became clear," Harbaugh said. "He tried to go, but it just wasn’t going to be something that would hold up to our best advantage. So, now you’ve got to make a decision: ‘This guy or this guy?’ We felt like it was the other guy for that game."
The Ravens are expecting safety Tom Zbikowski (concussion) to return this week after being held out of Sunday’s game.
LIGHTS OUT: Tight end Edgar Jones sent Chargers star outside linebacker Shawne Merriman sprawling through the air with a big block that knocked an unsuspecting Merriman to the ground.
It was a play designed by offensive coordinator Cam Cameron called "Lights On," named after the former University of Maryland player’s nickname, "Lights Out."
"He calls himself, ‘Lights Out,’ so it was a play for me to go hit Shawne Merriman and put his lights out," Jones said. "I did what I was supposed to do."
That play was replayed a few times Monday at the Ravens’ training complex.
"We replayed all the plays a few times, especially the good ones," Harbaugh said. "Edgar obviously has a role, and it’s a role to be really physical.
“He’s got that so-called defensive mentality and brings it over to the offensive side, and that’s what he did on that play."
Matched up against fellow former University of Maryland player Jared Gaither for the majority of the game, Merriman was limited to one tackle and two quarterback hits.
"I feel great about the matchup since we won," Gaither said. "I definitely think I played well, but we have to look at the film."
Merriman’s top contribution was in the fourth quarter when he got a big jump on the snap count and pressured Joe Flacco from behind into an interception to cornerback Antoine Cason.
It looked like Merriman might have been offsides on the play.
"Hey, the refs didn’t call it, so I guess he wasn’t," Gaither said. "Of course, I have a different opinion."
And so did Merriman.
"I timed it pretty good," he said. "Sometimes, you have got to go out and make a play and hope for the best."
QUICK HITS: With 69 points in two games, the Ravens have scored more points in consecutive games than in any two-game period in franchise history since 2005. … Harbaugh was complimentary of quarterback Joe Flacco, for smartly taking a nine-yard sack in the fourth quarter to keep the clock running prior to Steve Hauschka’s 33-yard field goal. "Rather than throwing it away or risking a fumble, Joe holds onto it and takes a sack," Harbaugh said. "That keeps the clocking rolling and forces them to take a timeout." … Atop the AFC North, the Ravens aren’t thrilled that they’re being labeled by former NFL head coach Steve Mariucci as the team to beat in the AFC. "We don’t care, we don’t particularly want that," Harbaugh said. "That’s not a place we’re comfortable with. It’s early, but I’m proud of our football team. They won a tough game on the road, early in the season." … Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs bumped Sproles on his 81-yard touchdown catch out of the backfield, but help never came as Sproles went untouched on his way to the end zone. "When you play man coverage against a good back like that, sometimes you put a call on to try to knock those guys off and slow them down a little bit," Harbaugh said. "And Suggs tried to do that. They got us caught up in the man coverage on a switch and he came free. That was unfortunate. They caught us." … The Ravens haven’t been using fourth wide receiver Demetrius Williams much with the emergence of third receiver Kelley Washington, who caught a touchdown against San Diego. "We’ve been in three receiver sets, he’s been the fourth receiver," Harbaugh said. "When we feel like he’s ready to help us win a game based on the situation, he’ll be out there. He’s worked really hard. You don’t put on 12, 15 pounds of muscle mass in the last year that he’s done to get himself ready to play if you’re not a hard-working guy. I think without question he’ll be a big part of the plans the next few weeks." … The Ravens didn’t agree with the offsides penalty on rookie offensive tackle Michael Oher where an official stopped the play as center Matt Birk was getting ready to snap the ball. "I made a call this morning," Harbaugh said. "That was a really well-officiated game. That would be one that we weren’t too sure about. We’ll give them one, I guess, but they did a good job." … Harbaugh chose his words carefully when asked about former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan’s New York Jets’ upset win over the New England Patriots. "I’ve got to be careful on that," he said. "How this thing shakes out, we’re going to be rooting for the Ravens all the way through and it looks like the Jets are going to be a big part of that just like Rex said they would. We’re not surprised. We’ve come to pretty much believe everything Rex says." … The Ravens had some trouble with cramping with strong safety Dawan Landry getting an IV on the sideline to replenish his fluids. "Our guys were doing fine until they put the thermometer up on the big scoreboard and it showed 108 degrees," Harbaugh said. "All of a sudden, our guys were dying. That was psychology or something going on there, but they started cramping toward the end."