MINNEAPOLIS — Baltimore Ravens rookie offensive tackle Michael Oher wasn’t intimidated by Jared Allen, aggressively driving the Minnesota Vikings’ star defensive end into the ground during the first half.
He got into a shoving match with Allen and separated the early frontrunner for NFL Defensive Player of the Year from his helmet.
During the Ravens’ 33-31 loss to the Vikings on Sunday at the Metrodome, Oher held his own for the most part against one of the premier pass rushers in the game. He struggled early in the game and then settled down.
Allen finished the game with one sack, seven tackles, four for losses and two quarterback hits. In a stadium as noisy as advertised, Oher also committed two false-start penalties.
“In the second half, I felt like I shut him out,” Oher said. “There’s nothing really special about him. He had the crowd noise on his side. If we were at home, it would have been different. The false starts was just mistiming the snap."
He never backed down, though, against Allen as he made his second career start at left offensive tackle with Jared Gaither deactivated again with a neck injury.
It wasn’t a great game by Oher, but it was a solid performance under the circumstances and the competition.
Allen has more sacks than any other NFL player since 2004. He entered the game with 6 1/2 sacks.
In the fourth quarter, Allen sacked Joe Flacco from behind as he wasn’t blocked at all. It appeared that the Ravens were trying to let him go to set up a screen play.
"I think he found out I’m an OK player,” Oher said. “He’s a big-time player making like $100 million. I think I did all right.”
It’s actually a $73 million contract, but who’s counting.
Oher said he didn’t feel like he needed a boost of confidence from how he performed against Allen.
"I’m playing the same way every snap," he said. "I’m not gaining anything as the game goes on."
Oher added that Allen, who’s known for his trash-talking, was keeping his mouth shut by the end of the game.
"He got quiet," Oher said. "All that talking doesn’t mean anything."
The Ravens’ pass protection seemed to improve in the second half despite a lot of throws after falling behind.
"I thought our tackles did a nice job on their outside guys," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We slowed down their second step a little bit with the way we were releasing our tight ends and backs. I think our guys did a nice job of blocking them."
TRADE RUMORS: Despite team officials’ denials, the Ravens continue to be the subject of several trade rumors around the league.
According to various reports, they’re supposedly interested in Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, New England Patriots wide receiver Joey Galloway and allegedly made an inquiry about Buffalo Bills wide receiver Terrell Owens that was rebuffed.
Outside linebacker Antwan Barnes, who didn’t play Sunday, is on the trading block, according to one report.
There’s nothing concrete to the rumors, though.
"I didn’t hear any rumors," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "I’ve been in this game long enough to know that unless it’s a credible source you don’t pay any attention to it. I didn’t hear anything about it."
INJURY UPDATE: Wide receiver Kelley Washington left the game briefly with a minor concussion in the fourth quarter suffered on a big hit by former University of Maryland safety Madieu Williams, but returned.
"I got my bell rung pretty good," Washington said. "He gave me a pretty good hit. It was one of those plays where you need a couple plays off to get mentally back into it. He gave me a good hit, so I needed a minute or two to clear my head."
Quarterback Joe Flacco said his ankle was sore after having it stepped on a few times, but it isn’t regarded as serious.
STRONG GAMES: Harbaugh praised rookie kick returner and cornerback Lardarius Webb.
Webb returned seven kickoffs, averaging 23.6 yards. He returned one kick 40 yards.
Plus, the third-round draft pick saw more extensive playing time than usual on defense with starting cornerback Fabian Washington on the bench and Frank Walker lined up outside.
He registered no tackles or pass deflections.
"Lardarius is a good football player," Harbaugh said. "He’s a young football player with plenty to learn, special-teams wide and defensively.
"He’s a guy that continues to earn playing time and expanding his role and he did a good job on kickoff returns and on defense."
FLACCO ON FIRE: Flacco rallied the Ravens, completing 28 of 43 passes for a career-high 385 yards as he threw two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 109.2 passer rating.
"I told Joe on the field, ‘That is a performance that you’re going to see out of a 15-year veteran,’" Harbaugh said. "Joe is courageous, he is physically and mentally tough. Standing there against that defense to keep chucking it and making the throws he did, speaks for itself."
LINEUP CHANGE: No explanation was given for why veteran defensive end Trevor Pryce didn’t start for the first time this season.
Dwan Edwards took his place and recorded a sack. Pryce played extensively and also registered a sack.
RARE SIGHTING: With Washington out of the game, wide receiver Demetrius Williams caught his first pass of the season.
His 17-yard reception was his first since last year.
"I just did what I had to do," said Williams, who was beaten out by Washington for the third wide receiver job. "Whenever they need me, I’ll be ready."
BENCHED: Washington said he doesn’t know if this benching is temporary or permanent.
"I have no clue," he said. "The coaches told me to go chill out."
TACKLING ISSUES: The Ravens have missed a lot more tackles this season than in the past.
Can it be improved during the season when tackling drills aren’t full-contact because of the risk of injury?
"It’s not hard to fix tackling," Washington said. "Tackling is effort and want-to. It can be fixed at any time."
QUICK HITS: The Ravens had no answer for Vikings quarterback Brett Favre. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 278 yards, three touchdown and no interceptions for a pristine 136.9 rating. He was sacked three times, but rarely pressured on a consistent basis. "When you give him time, that’s going to be a problem," Harbaugh said. "He can get the ball downfield and he has great vision down the field. When we got to him, he wasn’t effective. And when we didn’t, he was effective. Obviously, he’s a great quarterback for a reason." … Favre said he was extremely conscious of avoiding free safety Ed Reed, but wound up looking Reed off on a touchdowns to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and a long pass to wide receiver Bernard Berrian that drew a defensive pass interference call. "He reads eyes about as good as anyone in the league," Favre said. "In all honesty, he hides in the secondary. Sometimes, you go, ‘Where did he come from?’ Does he give up some plays at times? Sure. In order to make the plays that he makes, he’s got to take some of those chances and he’s good at it. So, I was very, very mindful. The big play to Bernard, he actually blitzes and we catch him offsides. We need to feel very good about the way we played against their defense and the fact that we didn’t let Ed get one because I was concerned. We dodged a bullet." … Inside linebacker Tavares Gooden notched a career-high eight tackles, tying middle linebacker Ray Lewis for the most stops. … Besides Gaither, the Ravens also deactivated wide receiver David Tyree (hamstring), third quarterback John Beck, running back Jalen Parmele, Barnes, offensive tackle Oniel Cousins, nose guard Kelly Talavou and outside linebacker-defensive end Paul Kruger. … The Ravens’ game captains were outside linebacker Jarret Johnson, nose guard Kelly Gregg, safety Haruki Nakamura and center Matt Birk, a native of St. Paul, Minn., who was selected to six Pro Bowls as a Viking. … The Vikings scratched third quarterback Sage Rosenfels, cornerback Asher Allen, running back Albert Young, former Maryland linebacker Erin Henderson, center Jon Cooper, wide receiver Darius Reynaud, defensive end Jayme Mitchell and defensive tackle Letroy Guion.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.