Everyone likes a sequel. And the return of Lardarius Webb to the slot on Sunday proved a blockbuster.
In 2011 and 2012, Webb was used as an outside corner in the standard (4 DB) packages and matched up with the slot receiver in the nickel. Lardarius had spent the season as an outside corner exclusively prior to Sunday, presumably in deference to his 2012 ACL tear.
It is quite rare that an outside corner will ever be used to rush the passer. However, with his return to coverage of the slot receiver, many more pass-rush options are open for Webb. Pees made good use of those options Sunday.
• (Q1, 12:00) Webb rushed unblocked through the left B gap off the left slot to pressure Dalton. The QB threw left for Bernard, but the pass was knocked down by Daryl Smith.
• (Q1, 9:36) The Ravens rushed 6 and left Webb on an island with Green 7 yards past the LoS between the numbers and right hash. Webb timed his move from behind and knocked the ball down.
• (Q1, 8:13) Webb helped maintain the left edge against Eifert and slowed Jones’ 7-yard reverse just long enough to prevent a big play as Canty raced for the tackle.
• (Q1, 6:50) Webb rushed the QB and knocked down Dalton’s pass, but the play was washed out by delay of game.
• (Q2, 14:10) Webb had good coverage of Sanu on the right sideline. Dalton was flushed by Dumervil and appeared to intentionally ground the ball in front of Sanu as Webb dove, but came up short of the interception.
• (Q2, 2:32) On 3rd and 10, Webb blitzed yet again. This time he stunted through the right B gap to pressure Dalton as he threw complete to the hot receiver Sanu for a gain of 7 (2 + 5 YAC). The Bengals were forced to punt.
• (Q3, 14:54) Dalton threw a pass short right to Eifert. Webb tried for a high tackle, but missed. Upshaw also missed, allowing the TE to scamper down the right sideline for 40 yards (5 + 35 YAC).
• (Q3, 7:32) Dalton threw for Jones 10 yards downfield between the numbers and right hash. Jones appeared to make the grab, but Webb pried it free for an interception.
• (Q3, 4:02) Dalton threw a screen right for Green a yard behind the LoS. Webb flashed up past the block (and hold) of RT Smith to force the receiver to outside where Elam hit him for the fumble that wasn’t. At the stadium, it actually was difficult to tell if Green’s elbow or knee was down. At home (and this presumes Dierdorf’s explanation of the rule is correct), I can say it is one of the 3 worst replay decisions I will ever see. And I’m saving the other 2 for later.
• (Q3, 0:21) Webb rushed through the left B gap. Although he was picked up by Bernard (perhaps 2 feet in front of Dalton), Dumervil used the compression to take down Dalton for a loss of 5.
• (Q4, 12:30) Daryl Smith blitzed by Bernard to pressure Dalton as he threw for Green 9 yards down the right sideline. Webb batted the ball away for another PD.
• (Q4, 9:41) Webb jumped offsides as he came up in press coverage of Jones.
• (Q4, 9:09) Lardarius stripped Sanu 22 yards down the right sideline for his 4th PD.
• (Q4, 2:47) Giovani Bernard appeared poised for another big play as he ran right off a stacked up line, but Webb beat a block from Green to take down the rookie for a gain of just 1.
• (Q4, 1:07) Webb again exploited the right B gap (are we seeing a pattern here yet?) and hopped to deflect Dalton’s pass for his 5th PD
• (Q4, 1:03) Dalton threw unpressured for Sanu 5 yards from the LoS on the left sideline. Webb and Smith took him down in bounds for no YAC on a play that used 20 of the 63 remaining ticks in regulation. The runoff didn’t end up helping, but it should have.
• (Q4, 0:41) Webb again blitzed thru the left B gap. While Bernard got a shoulder on him, Dalton felt the heat and ran for a gain of just 2 (tackled by Suggs). With the game situation, that was as effective as a sack, but I have not counted that among his pass rush stats below.
• (OT, 12:29) Webb broke up Dalton’s pass for Green 12 yards downfield between the numbers and right hash for his 6th and final PD.
I have yet to hear the explanation, but Webb did not play the last 3 defensive snaps.
In total, he rushed the passer on 6 occasions, delivering 3 pressures and a PD at the LoS. On 2 other pass rush plays, he delivered a PD negated by delay of game, and flushed Dalton for a 2-yard run. I’m sure with research that you could find one, but I cannot recall a corner on any team have as effective a game rushing the passer. Every OC the Ravens face will be game-planning to stop him.
Is a total of 6 PDs special?
Webb is only the second Raven with 6 PDs in a game, and the first since Duane Starks in week 15 of the 1999 season (7 PDs). The only players with 5 were:
• Ed Reed against Tampa Bay in the 12th week of 2010. Those, amazingly, came in a stretch of 8 defensive snaps!
• Duane Starks against Tennessee in week 4 of the 2001 season
On 17 other occasions a Raven has had 4 PDs including Reed 4 times, Webb and Fabian Washington twice, Cary Williams, Baxter, Sharper, Corey Harris, Herring, Starks, McAlister, Woodson, and Ray Lewis (SB XXXV).
The team total of 17 PDs was matched only by the 2000 regular-season finale versus the Jets when the Ravens were credited with 17 among 69 of Testaverde’s passes.
Some have been generous enough to call Webb’s effort Sunday the best game of his season. That’s well short of the mark. It was, simply, the best game ever turned in by a Ravens corner. Webb was dominant in coverage, dominant as a pass rusher, and assisted ably in run support.
While AJ Green (Goblin) exploited 2 tips for 94 receiving yards, Webb won his personal matchup against the division’s arch-villain wideout.
The Ravens have rediscovered one of their defensive playmakers.