OWINGS MILLS — Although quarterback Joe Flacco limped noticeably during an overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens don’t consider his sprained ankle to be a major injury.
Flacco first sprained his ankle when Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen stomped on his foot Oct. 18.
Flacco aggravated the injury in the third quarter of the Ravens’ 20-17 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers with his mobility definitely affected.
Flacco completed 23 of 35 passes for 289 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, but was sacked five times after halftime and completed 14 of 23 throws.
“I don’t know if there’s a way to quantify it,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said when asked if the injury is having a negative effect on Flacco. “I think Joe has done a heck of a job of fighting through a little bit of an ankle.
“It’s not a major injury, but I’m sure it’s bothersome for a quarterback to have that foot a little bit sore. Joe is a courageous guy, and you see him standing in there and throwing in the face of some pressure and taking some hits. He’s not shy about that, and that speaks to what kind of player he is.”
Flacco said that his ankle had to be re-taped.
“I kind of re-rolled it in the beginning of the season half,” Flacco said. “I just put some tape on it. It felt good the rest of the time. You got to give Pittsburgh credit. They tried to come after us and we stood in there tough.”
NICE DEBUT: Rookie cornerback Lardarius Webb had a fairly uneventful starting debut, recording three tackles, one for a loss, and knocking down three passes.
He nearly had an interception and he didn’t allow any long receptions.
In his first NFL start in place of Fabian Washington, Webb held up well.
He almost allowed a touchdown pass to Mike Wallace, but Wallace dropped the pass with Webb appearing to get a hand in there to disrupt the throw.
And the third-round draft pick from Nicholls State (La.) could have scored a touchdown if not for a dropped potential interception in the fourth quarter of a throw intended for tight end Heath Miller.
“Lardarius played well in his first opportunity to play as much as he did,” Harbaugh said. “He’s got some skills. There are plenty of things he’s got to work on. There are a lot of little intricacies in the coverage that he’s got to continue to grow throw, but he played well.”
SPECIAL-TEAMS MISCUES: Harbaugh singled out the special-teams penalties as a big miscue after the Ravens drew four of their nine penalties for a total of 45 yards in the kicking game.
Linebacker Tavares Gooden’s illegal block in the fourth quarter negated a 43-yard punt return from Chris Carr.
And safety Tom Zbikowski was flagged for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty that moved the Ravens back to their own 27-yard line.
“Very disappointed special-teams wise with the penalties,” Harbaugh said. "There’s really no reason. We work on it every single day. There’s no reason to put your hand on a guy’s back. It’s hard to do now because you’re trying for a block and you’re reaching for a guy, but we have to be better than that.
“It’s not just the 10 yards you lose, it’s the yards that you gained on the return that you lose. Those can be huge penalties. At the end of the game, that was probably a 50-yard penalty. So that’s an area that we as a staff work really hard on and players work hard on, and we’ve just got to be better in that area.”
The bright spot was a more aggressive approach from Carr, who has been struggling all season.
He returned five punts for a 14.2 average and only called for one fair catch.
“We’ve been close all year, believe it or not,” Harbaugh said. “You get some returnable balls. We got the gunners blocked a little bit better at times than we have in the past, and he was north and south.”
SIDELINE BLOWUP: Emotional veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason lost his temper on the sideline during the fourth quarter.
Mason was clearly angry when Flacco threw it to tight end Todd Heap incomplete instead of him in the end zone.
Mason threw his helmet and got in a spirited conversation with Harbaugh.
“They were playing man-to-man,” Mason said. “I just wanted an opportunity to win the game. As a competitor, you just want to influence the game somehow. That’s all it was about. After we got back to the sideline and then got back out there, it was over and done with.”
Mason wound up catching seven passes for 62 yards and a touchdown.
From Harbaugh’s standpoint, there were no hard feelings.
“That’s kind of what we’re about, everything’s out there,” Harbaugh said. “We’re not one of these teams that are going to try to sugarcoat anything with each other. We’re emotional, all of us, and it’s an emotional game.
“We’re the same way in practice, Derrick and the coaches and the players and all of us, because to me that’s what’s real. We don’t shy away or back down from real raw emotion. So we move on, we love each other and we’ve got a game to win together next week.”
QUICK HITS: Harbaugh said he’s looking forward to the Ravens’ trip to historic Lambeau Field to play the Green Bay Packers. “Lambeau’s a great place, I’ve been there twice,” he said. “They’ve got that old time walkway out to the field. It’s about as wide as this podium right here, and you’ve got to squeeze through to get onto the field. It’s got an old green carpet that’s probably been there since Bart Starr walked down there. So, it’s a neat place to play.” … Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s zone-blitz schemes were particularly effective late in the game as his outside linebackers and defensive ends won a lot of battles against offensive tackles Jared Gaither and Michael Oher. “It’s a case of them doing what they do,” Harbaugh said. “They brought pressure the whole time, and I thought they got on our edge a couple of times and won some one-on-one matchups, and Joe moved around and got the ball out a couple of times and we marched right down the field. I know that was a big challenge for our offense and a credit to what we were able to accomplish offensively to move the ball the way we did against the No. 1 defense in the league, at times. Then again, at times we didn’t move it so well and the two turnovers were hurtful. Those are the things that you worry about when you play a team like the Steelers..” …
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.