BALTIMORE – The Baltimore Ravens didn’t escape unscathed from their victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, suffering injuries to key players on both sides of the football.
Free safety Ed Reed hurt his ribs and was grimacing in pain on the field and sidelines, but gutted it out for a long time after hurting his side.
Offensive tackle Michael Oher sprained his right knee for the second time this season. He also twisted his ankle on the play and didn’t return.
Cornerback Josh Wilson and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe incurred shoulder stingers and didn’t return.
And Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata received treatment after getting banged-up on a fumble recovery.
None of the injuries are expected to prevent them from playing in next Sunday’s AFC wild-card game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
“We did get into a situation where we started getting some injuries,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “There or four guys went down for us. That hurt us, and we weren’t going to have a chance to substitute anybody out. We were just trying to hang on and make sure we could get substitution groups in packages on the field.
“When Michael got tweaked, whether he could have come back in or not, I think he could have. We basically just decided not to put him back in at that point. Haloti, same thing. He probably could’ve come back in, but we didn’t want to mess with that. Maybe those guys would’ve come back in, in a different situation.”
Oher was replaced at left tackle by Oniel Cousins.
Afterward, Oher emphasized that he doesn’t think the injury is that bad.
“I’m feeling alright,” Oher said. “I should be good, just get a bunch of treatment and should be alright. I wanted to come back in, but I want to get ready for the playoffs.”
Reed went to the locker room to be examined, but went back in the game and intercepted Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer for the second time.
“Yeah, I don’t know exactly how serious or minor it is right now,” Reed said. “I’ve got to go see the doctor. They didn’t want to jeopardize any more than we put it in jeopardy. They were asking me at halftime to come out.
“I don’t know if it was my ribs or my muscle, but it’s in that area right there.”
Wilson hurt his left shoulder in the first quarter when he hit tight end Chase Coffman.
The Ravens had Lardarius Webb substitute for him at cornerback and used Fabian Washington in the nickel package.
“I’m good to go,” Wilson said. “Ask coach Harbaugh what I did.”
Fullback Le’Ron McClain hurt his left elbow and got treatment for it, but went back in the game.
“I hurt it on that play out in the flat,” he said. “It’s not that bad.”
CUNDIFF TIES A RECORD: Kicker Billy Cundiff reached an NFL milestone, tying Mitch Berger for the single-season record for touchbacks. With his 40th touchback of the season, the first-time Pro Bowl selection tied Berger’s record established during the 1998 season for the Minnesota Vikings.
“I just see myself striving continuing to strive to get better,” Cundiff said. “Hopefully, next year we’ll get even more. Obviously, there’s so many variable. Mitch Berger was out there kicking in a dome.
“Thirty-two of his touchbacks were indoors. I play outside. I want to emphasize that I’m setting a new standard for myself that I’m hopefully going to try to exceed each year.”
Cundiff expressed some regret at not breaking the record, but was happy overall.
He finished the season 26 of 29 on field goals.
“Obviously, I wish I would have broken it, right?” Cundiff said. “I feel like I left two kicks out there. I just didn’t get through them as well as I would have liked. I’m disappointed I got two, I should have got three, but I think that’s a good progression for me as a kicker.
I was a little disappointed we didn’t take advantage of some opportunities earlier. I’ve kind of struggled these past two games with my rhythm on kickoffs.”
The Ravens’ fans were aware that Cundiff was close to the record.
“It’s exciting, it’s strange,” Cundiff said. “You know you have sophisticated fans. They understand the importance of field position and all this other stuff.
“Most other places when it comes to kicking, they kind of just say, ‘Whatever.’ It’s nice to be in that environment.”
PUNCHOUT: Slammed to the ground by offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs lost his helmet and his temper.
The Pro Bowl pass rusher punched the wrong guy in retaliation, slugging wide receiver Jerome Simpson in the face when he handed him back his helmet.
The officials missed the punch, though, and didn’t penalize Suggs.
“I was getting into it with him all day, exchanging words,” said Suggs, who has never registered a sack against Whitworth. “I could have cost my team. I’ve got to be better in that area. Luckily, I got away with one. Usually, I don’t get away with anything. They were too busy looking for the spot off the ball.”
What did Whitworth say to anger Suggs?
“He kept saying Tom Brady was his favorite quarterback,” Suggs said with a laugh.
HEAP IS BACK: Two-time Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap returned to action after missing the previous three games with a pulled right hamstring.
“It was good to get out there,” Heap said. “I feel like I wanted to get some reps and get my feet back under me. I thought I got that accomplished.”
Heap didn’t aggravate the leg injury.
“No setbacks,” he said. “Nothing to write about. I’m just excited to get it going, get my feet back under me and get it going for next week.”
Heap caught three passes for 53 yards, including a 37-yard gain on a screen pass off a flea-flicker.
“It was a play we practiced this week,” Heap said. “It caught them off guard and we caught them rushing in toward the passer, and it was as wide open as I’ve seen a screen play like that in a while. I wasn’t really doing much but setting up blocks. Our guys were staying on their guys, and it was a big play for us.”
END OF THE ROAD FOR M. LEWIS?: Could this have been the final game for Bengals coach Marvin Lewis?
Perhaps, considering his contract has expired and he has declined to sign a contract extension.
The Bengals finished 4-12.
Lewis is expected to meet with owner Mike Brown today. He has been lobbying unsuccessfully for an expanded scouting department and better facilities, including an indoor practice field.
He has also been mentioned as a potential candidate for the University of Pittsburgh job.
“I can’t answer where things are with me, personally, professionally, whatever,” said Lewis, a former Ravens defensive coordinator and Finksburg resident. “All I know is officially today, I’m no longer employed. But that’s all I know.”
STRANGE DECISION? Why did Carson Palmer throw the football high over running back Cedric Peerman’s head on fourth-and-1 at the Ravens’ two-yard line in the final seconds
"On fourth down, we had three receivers to the left, and they had max coverage," Palmer said. "Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Cedric, but I couldn’t get the ball to him because of their pressure."
Running back Cedric Benson wanted the football for himself in that situation.
“Yeah, that would’ve been a nice call,” he said. “But somebody is in the position to make those calls, and they wanted to pass.”
MASON MAKES HISTORY: Wide receiver Derrick Mason caught his 60th pass in the second quarter, and is now among some rarified company as he joined Jerry Rice and Tony Gonzalez as the only NFL players to ever catch 60 passes for 11 consecutive seasons.
“It’s a blessing,” Mason said. “To me, it’s an honor. It tells me that I’ve been able to last for a long time. I’ve been able to go so many years without missing a game. And people that I’ve played with, the offensive coordinators that I’ve played under and the quarterbacks that I’ve played with, have had a lot of confidence in me to go out each and every game and make plays.”
NO FUMBLES: Running back Ray Rice managed to make it through the entire season with no fumbles.
He carried it 307 times for 1,220 yards and five touchdowns and he caught 63 passes for 556 yards and one touchdown for a total of 370 touches without a miscue.
“I had a fumble-free season,” Rice said. “I feel pretty good.”
Rice lost the football Sunday, but was ruled down by contact.
“On the play where my shoulder made contact with the ground, I was wishing the ball was in the other hand,” Rice said. “That way I could have used my off arm, but I knew it wasn’t a fumble.”
NO ISSUES: In his first game since joining the team, long snapper Kevin Houser had an uneventful game with no botched snaps. Houser was signed Wednesday as an injury replacement for rookie long snapper Morgan Cox.
“Everything was OK,” Houser said. “It was like we all expected. I don’t think anybody thought it would be perfect the first time around. There’s some things we need to work on. I’m out there knocking the rust off. I snapped in a game for the first time in a while.”
QUICK HITS: The Ravens set a franchise single-season record for fewest turnovers with 20, breaking the previous mark of 21 from two seasons ago. They threw a franchise-low 10 interceptions. And their 90 penalties is the second fewest in team history behind their 89 in 2001. Their 673 penalty yards set a new franchise record, down from 728 in 2001. … Reed leads the NFL with eight interceptions despite playing in only 10 games. “It’s just a blessing first and foremost,” Reed said. “And my teammates, hats off to those guys, they played tremendous. The defensive line and linebackers, putting pressure on the ball and tipped balls, Johnny on the spot, just doing my job.” … The Ravens deactivated rookie wide receiver David Reed (concussion, sprained wrist), safety Tom Zbikowski (bulging disc in back), linebacker Tavares Gooden (dislocated left shoulder), tight end Davon Drew, fullback Jason McKie, tight end Dennis Pitta (concussion) and defensive tackles Arthur Jones and Lamar Divens. … The Bengals scratched rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham (knee), wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (ankle bone spurs), center Reggie Stephens, offensive tackle Kirk Chambers, third quarterback Dan LeFevour, tight end Garret Mills, defensive end Victor Adeyanju and tight end Garrett Mills. … The Ravens’ game captains were quarterback Joe Flacco, wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Chris Carr. … Flacco passed for a career-high 3,622 yards and 25 touchdowns this season, and his 93.6 passer rating ranks first in franchise single-season history.