BALTIMORE – In the process of shutting down Miami Dolphins star wide receiver Brandon Marshall, the Baltimore Ravens also shuffled their secondary.
The Ravens held Marshall to five receptions for 30 yards and no touchdowns in a 26-10 victory at M&T Bank Stadium.
They also benched cornerback Fabian Washington for the second game in a row, giving him the hook at halftime as a consequence of his missed tackle on a 31-yard Brian Hartline reception in the second quarter.
Unlike the Ravens’ overtime win over the Buffalo Bills when he surrendered three touchdown passes to Lee Evans, Washington didn’t give up any scores against Miami.
Josh Wilson replaced Washington and deflected three passes and posted one interception. He knocked down a deep pass intended for Marshall, running with him step for step.
"It doesn’t bother me," Washington said. "I’m still going to compete and I feel like I’ll get my shot to get back on the field. And when I do, you’ve got to take advantage of it like Josh did.
"We already knew Josh was going to get a shot. I did miss an open-field tackle and wound up giving up 30 yards. That could have been the reason behind it."
It’s unclear if Wilson will replace Washington in the starting lineup Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons.
Washington expressed confidence that he’ll remain the starter.
"Yes, of course," Washington said. "But we’ll see when we go into [Monday.] We’ll see what happens."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh wasn’t critical of Washington’s play.
"First of all, Fabian was playing OK," he said. "And Fabian’s going to be fine. Fabian’s a big part of what we’re doing here."
In the fourth quarter, Wilson stepped in front of a Chad Henne pass intended for Davone Bess.
"It was two-man coverage and he turned and he stopped and the ball went my way," Wilson said. "The easy part was just catching it."
Wilson didn’t make any presumptions on what this latest assignment means toward his future status.
"We won and that’s the most important thing," Wilson said. "I just go out there and be prepared every day. I allow the coaches to make the decisions. It’s whatever they want to do. When I get my call, I make sure I do my best. It’s like, ‘Remember the Titans.’ Eventually, the novocaine is going to kick in."
The Ravens acquired Wilson via a trade from the Seattle Seahawks before the start of the regular season. Wilson is a former second-round draft pick from the University of Maryland.
"He’s here for a reason," Harbaugh said. "He’s a guy that’s had a lot of success. I figure as we go forward, we want to play these corners as much as we can. For Josh to come through the way he did, he made the great play with the interception at the end, which was gigantic."
Free safety Ed Reed intercepted Henne once in the fourth quarter, too.
"Ed Reed played really well," Harbaugh said. "Sometimes you throw downfield at your own risk now with Ed Reed back there."
Reed said he noticed frustration from Marshall, who’s on pace for his fourth consecutive 100-catch season.
"They’re a very explosive team with Brandon Marshall," Reed said. "If we’re going to let anybody be deep, it’s not going to be him. We definitely had our eyes on him, and he knew it.
"That’s got to be a frustrating thing. When we can do that and make a guy frustrated, a great receiver like Brandon Marshall and an offense that’s been potent all year, it’s a step for where we want to go."
The Ravens held Marshall to just four receptions for 24 yards last season when he was with the Denver Broncos.
"He’s a very good receiver, but it’s not like he’s a receiver we haven’t seen before," Carr said. "He’s a very physical receiver, he catches the ball very well. We feel like we can cover him well."
FEUD ESCALATES: Veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason got the final word over Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder. Actually, it was quite a few of them. Mason, 36, repeatedly insulted Crowder following the Ravens’ win.
"The first sign of respect is don’t disrespect your opponent and he disrespected his opponent early in the week," Mason said. "You have to be able in this sport to be able to back up what you talk. And for some reason this guy every time he says something he doesn’t back it up.
"He’s not a marquee player. I don’t think they even want him on this team, but they have no one to replace him. So, he has to be there. They took him out of the game and he played a little bit better. He’s in the game, he’s getting knocked down, he’s getting pushed out of the way."
Mason wasn’t done with his verbal assault on the talkative Dolphins linebacker, who nearly got into a fight with Ravens fullback Le’Ron McClain. Crowder said that McClain spit on him.
"The guy is horrible," Mason said. "Honestly, the guy is horrible. He’s probably a good guy, not taking that away from him, but he’s horrible. He’s not a good football player. Honestly, he needs to go back and watch the film and humble himself and not say anything."
It looked like the Ravens were going after Crowder on downfield blocks with extra gusto.
"He deserved it," Mason said. "They told me at the end of the week they were going to get him back for me and they did. The guy was either on the ground or getting pushed out of bounds. Willis [McGahee] stiff-armed him and made him look like a fool. There comes a point in time when you’re going to talk the talk walk the walk He figured he can talk his way through a game.
"He tried that a few years ago with coach [Rex] Ryan and it didn’t work. I don’t understand why this guy continues to talk. This is not boxing. You can’t scare your opponent. You got to play football and the guy doesn’t want to play football. The guy can’t play football, point blank."
Meanwhile, McClain denied spitting on Crowder.
"Nah, man, I’m not that type of player," McClain said. "I’m a ballplayer, man. If he’s frustrated that I was straight getting after him all game, that’s a fact. That’s his opinion if he thought I spit on him, but the fact is, throughout the game, for four quarters, I was doing my job. And I’ll just leave it at that.
"Nah, I didn’t spit on him. That’s crazy. That’s not my game. I’m Le’Ron McClain, man. Le’Ron McClain don’t spit on another player. But I will block you. Four quarters. That’s a fact."
Crowder, though, insisted that it happened.
"Get your pens out, the [expletive], [expletive] punk Le’Ron McClain spit in my face, spit in my face," Crowder said. "Keep writing, he spit in my face and that’s why I got mad. So, the refs told me they didn’t see the spit hit my face, that’s some ho [crap] and he’s a ho, go tell him.
"That’s why he was cutting me, he’s a cutter. He’s soft, I want to say some other choice words He’s soft and he spit in my face"
Added Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby: "If I’d have seen that it would’ve been a damn brawl out there straight up, we don’t play that, we some tough guys, but if you take a coward way like that, you got to be straight. Hopefully, Roger Goodell look at the film and do something about it.
"If he don’t, we’re gonna have to handle it like men. For you to spit in a guy’s face and then walk away, that’s a coward move, he’s supposed to be some tough guy. They ain’t all that damn tough. A coward move like that, that’s just what their makeup is."
FAKE PUNT WORKS: The Ravens successfully executed a fake punt as punter Sam Koch completed a 13-yard pass to gunner Cary Williams for a first down. Williams was left uncovered by the Dolphins and got Koch’s attention by yelling and gesturing for him to throw the football.
“I tried to draw as much attention as possible,” Williams said. “When I saw I was unguarded, I wanted to show Sam I was open. The coaches told me to go catch the ball. I had my hand up. I was screaming. The coaches were screaming.
“I played wide receiver in high school and college. I can play the position. I had confidence in my hands and Sam’s ability to get the ball out there to me.”
A high school fullback and linebacker, this was Koch’s first pass at any level of football.
It nearly didn’t happen, though, as the Dolphins were trying to call a timeout.
Plus, safety Haruki Nakamura attempted to call a timeout.
“I went out there and I saw nobody was on Cary, and I kinda went up there getting ready to punt, getting ready for my routine,” Koch said. “I did my whole routine and just heard a bunch of people yelling. I saw him out there, but I just figured someone was going to cover him up sooner or later.
“However, people just started yelling and yelling and yelling. Finally, it just came down to Haruki telling Morgan to snap it, and it was my decision to either punt it or throw it, and I decided to throw it. Very interesting day. More than likely, we won’t see that again for a while. I’ll continue to punt and do my job.”
Koch was throwing into the wind on the play, too.
“The fact that I was throwing into the wind probably made it a little tough, but at that point I was just making sure I got it there and I knew Cary would catch it,” Koch said.
It’s not easy to pull off a fake punt.
“That’s a hard thing to get to sometimes because you don’t want to mess it up,” Harbaugh said. “Sometimes, you can just punt the ball and be better off. It’s a hard play to execute. So for our guys to have the confidence to check to that play, for them to pull it off, make a throw, makes a catch, it was really a good decision.”
Earlier in the game, Koch dropped an accurate snap from rookie long snapper Morgan Cox on an aborted field goal attempt by kicker Billy Cundiff.
“There was a lot of wind out there,” Koch said. “It was one of those things where I thought the ball was coming back nice and tight and right at the end the ball just kind of dipped, hit my palm and bounced out. It was a very unfortunate thing. I feel bad that I did that to Billy, but we’ll work on that.”
Koch got hit on the play after trying to run with the ball.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t even feel it,” Koch said. “I knew I was on the ground, but I didn’t really feel the hit. It happened so fast. All I know is I jumped up and he was right in my face.”
ROUGH GAME: Dolphins outside linebacker Cameron Wake is as fast as advertised.
The Beltsville native and DeMatha Catholic graduate recorded two sacks, beating offensive tackle Marshal Yanda.
Yanda was recently named to Sports Illustrated’s midseason All-Pro team, but struggled to stop Wake’s upfield rush.
“Yeah, he’s a damn good player,” Yanda said. “You watch him on film all week and he’s relentless. He’s got speed up the field. He’s got a bull rush He got me a few times. It was rough. He got me up the field once and inside once. He’s relentless. He plays balls-out.
“I had to regroup after a couple of those plays and settle down. I feel like I played better in the second half. It’s tough. I’m going to think about those two plays. He got me.”
The 6-foot-3 250-pound former CFL star now has 8 ½ sacks for the season. Held without a sack against the Cincinnati Bengals last week, Wake hasn’t had consecutive games without a sack this year.
Yanda said the setback will only make him more determined.
“It pisses you off, but you go to the film and try to get it corrected and try to get better,” he said. “It leaves a salty taste in your mouth. As tackles, you don’t want to give up sacks.
“We won the game. That’s the most important thing. We’re already making our corrections. That’s the most speed I’ve seen all year. He was on me like that. He was so fast. That’s the fastest speed I’ve seen all year. It’s a learning experience.”
STALLWORTH RETURNS: Wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth made his regular-season debut with the Ravens after missing the first seven games with a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot suffered during the preseason.
Stallworth was sidelined all of last season due to a one-year NFL suspension and served nearly a month in jail for a DUI vehicular manslaughter conviction.
Stallworth appeared in roughly 15 to 20 snaps, but didn’t catch a pass.
"It felt good to be out there," Stallworth said. "I thought there was going to be some moment of clarity, but it was just back to work. It was fun being out there. It’s been a while, about 22, 23 months, but just getting back out there with the fellas, helping them try to win a ball game. That felt pretty good.
"I felt good. That’s the most important thing. I want to continue to keep everything in perspective with the foot."
WEBB PICKS OFF A PASS: Cornerback Lardarius Webb intercepted a Henne pass meant for Hartline in the second quarter when Hartline fell down.
And he cut across the field as he returned the interception 32 yards down to the Dolphins’ four-yard line.
"I think if I would stayed along the left sideline, I would’ve taken it in," Webb said. "I wanted to do my Ed Reed impersonation and cut it across the field, but I learned from it. Next time, I’ll know to stay on my sideline.
"I just had a good break on it. As an NFL corner, you have to make a play there. I anticipated the receiver’s double move. When he slipped, I broke on the ball. It was a great play, but I have to move on. That play is over."
NGATA COULD BE FINED: In today’s fine-heavy NFL, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata can probably expect to be punished by the league office for his roughing the passer infraction in the fourth quarter.
Ngata lowered his head and struck Henne in the chest with the crown of his helmet after the pass had already left his hands.
"I certainly hope not," Ngata said when asked if he expects to be fined. "I’m hoping the NFL realized we won the game and they turned off the film."
Harbaugh stuck up for Ngata.
"I don’t know how to coach our guys after that call," he said. "I’ll be looking forward to hear what the answer is. It’s confusing right now, to be honest."
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QUICK HITS: Afterward, the Ravens didn’t report any new injuries. The Ravens made some lineup changes after their bye week, deactivating linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, defensive end Brandon McKinney and safety Ken Hamlin. Ellerbe was replaced in the nickel package by inside linebacker Tavares Gooden. This marked Gooden’s first game back since dislocating his left shoulder against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second game of the season. "It felt great," Gooden said. "My shoulder felt great. I was well-prepared physically and mentally." Did the players know that Ellerbe was going to be scratched? "We didn’t know, nobody knew," Gooden said. "It was a shock. He’s a key to our success, but you can only play so many players and they were giving different people the opportunity. We’ve got a lot of great players." McKinney had been starting since the Ravens played the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was replaced by Cory Redding who began the season starting ahead of McKinney. And Hamlin usually plays on special teams, but was a healthy scratch this week. … The Ravens also deactivated safety Tom Zbikowski (bruised heel), offensive tackle Scott Kooistra, defensive tackles Arthur Jones and Lamar Divens and rookie tight end Dennis Pitta (concussion). "It’s tough when you don’t practice all week," Pitta said. "It’s something I was anticipating because you want to be extra cautious when you’re dealing with head injuries. I feel pretty good now and I look forward to playing on Thursday." .. Rookie wide receiver David Reed got an opportunity on kickoff returns, dropping one and picking it up. He returned two kickoffs for 44 yards. He also had a 15-yard run on a reverse. "It felt great," Reed said. "It’s a blessing. It’s everything I dreamed of. I got the ball in my hands and I felt comfortable. I dropped the first kickoff when he shanked it and it kind of threw me off. I still have no excuse. I’ve got to make the catch. I got that one out of the way. I had a little jitters…. The Dolphins deactivated wide receiver Marlon Moore, quarterback Tyler Thigpen, safeties Reshad Jones and Nate Ness, defensive end Clifton Geathers, tight end Mickey Shuler and offensive tackles Patrick Brown and Lydon Murtha. … The Dolphins started Sean Smith at right cornerback over Jason Allen. … The Ravens’ game captains were kicker Billy Cundiff, offensive guard Ben Grubbs and middle linebacker Ray Lewis.