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BALTIMORE — Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair suffered a bruised throwing hand in the first quarter that sidelined him against the Cleveland Browns, but expressed confidence that heâ€™ll return next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
X-rays taken at M&T Bank Stadium were ruled negative, and McNair was diagnosed with soft-tissue damage.
â€œIâ€™ve just got to get some of the soreness out of it,â€ said McNair, whose hand was accidentally stepped on by middle linebacker Andra Davis in the first quarter of the Ravensâ€™ 27-17 win over the Cleveland Browns. â€œIâ€™m quite sure Iâ€™ll be ready.â€
The Ravens opted to keep backup Kyle Boller in the game because of concerns regarding McNairâ€™s ability to take snaps. Boller threw two touchdown passes in relief with one interception and a fumble.
â€œThe hand was OK when they X-rayed it, but he was having a tough time taking a snap,â€ Ravens coach Brian Billick said. â€œHe felt like he could throw. It was the exchange that I was concerned about, and I was worried about the quarterback-center exchange, fumbles, that kind of thing. Kyle was ready to go, and I just thought it was the prudent thing to do.â€
One indication of the relative lack of seriousness of McNairâ€™s injury, he was emphatic that he was capable of continuing if it was absolutely necessary.
â€œI think I could have gone back in,â€ McNair said. â€œIt was a matter of taking the snap from the center.â€
TRAINING ROOM: Cornerback Samari Rolleâ€™s arm was in a sling following the game with a shoulder sprain and stinger in what appears to be the most serious injury reported.
â€œI donâ€™t know the extent of it yet,â€ Billick said.
Added cornerback Corey Ivy, who left the game with a concussion: â€œSamari is a tough man, heâ€™ll be back as soon as possible. If not, the rest of us need to step up and make plays.â€
Tight end Todd Heap (thigh contusion) and offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (hyperextended toe) were the other injuries reported.
SACK RECORD: Led by two sacks from defensive end Trevor Pryce, who has recorded a team-high 12, the Ravens registered five sacks to set a new team record with 52 for the season. The previous high was 49 in 1999.
Several players credited defensive coordinator Rex Ryanâ€™s aggressive schemes.
â€œTeams have so much to worry about beside everybodyâ€™s individual talent,â€ Pryce said. â€œThat stuff wears on the offense. Not only the scheme, but also the guys running the scheme. Thatâ€™s a double-whammy.â€
With two games remaining, Pryce is three sacks shy of tying Peter Boulwareâ€™s team record of 15 set in 2001. â€œHeâ€™s a man among boys,â€ defensive end Terrell Suggs said.
Pryce had just four last season with the Denver Broncos prior to becoming a salary-cap casualty.
â€œSacks are a byproduct of a lot of things,â€ Pryce said. â€œI am what I am and Iâ€™ve always done these types of things. But the difference between a sack and a pressure is a second. Now, Iâ€™m getting that second. I wasnâ€™t getting those seconds last season.â€
RESURGENT LEWIS: Running back Jamal Lewis busted off left guard for his longest run of the year, a 52-yard burst prior to being caught from behind by safety Brodney Pool.
â€œThe opportunity just presented itself,â€ said Lewis, who rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. â€œThe offensive line blocked perfectly, and I just hit the hole where I was supposed to go and it was wide open . I couldnâ€™t help but get a good run out of it.â€
Lewisâ€™ longest run last season was 25 yards, and his previous longest run this year was 27 yards.
â€œItâ€™s been a long time,â€ said the former NFL Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 100 yards for the second time this season. â€œIt felt tiresome, thatâ€™s what it felt like. But it was good. It shows that weâ€™re working hard on the running game. Coach Billick isnâ€™t afraid to call the runs that we need to and is doing a good job of setting things up.â€
SILENCE, PLEASE: Ravens linebacker Bart Scott didnâ€™t have nearly as many harsh words as Steelers linebacker Joey Porter did for brash Browns tight end Kellen Winslow. However, he made it plain that he doesnâ€™t care for Winslowâ€™s outspoken act.
â€œI come out of the tunnel and the guy is waiting for me at the 40-yard line, saying, â€˜I donâ€™t respect you,â€™â€ Scott said. â€œWhat are you talking about? Where does he get that stuff from?
â€œI was just glad to get the last laugh. I was able to get the victory and he helped me out with a sack. So, thanks. Iâ€™m glad I only play him twice a season. I thought I talked a lot. He needs his own talk show or a rap CD.â€
INJURED RESERVE: The Ravens unexpectedly placed backup running back Musa Smith on injured reserve with a neck injury, ending his season.
Smith suffered a stinger against the Tennessee Titans weeks ago, but aggravated it against the Cincinnati Bengals and was held out of last weekâ€™s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Billick had indicated that Smith was probably going to return next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but stressed that doctors wanted to run more tests before they would clear him to play.
Defensive back Jamaine Winborne was promoted from the practice squad to take Smithâ€™s place on the active roster.
STATEMENT MADE: Safety Ed Reed delivered one of the gameâ€™s most crushing hits with a shot on Browns wide receiver Joe Jurevicius over the middle in the second half.
â€œThis is our house,â€ Reed said. â€œWhen you come into our house, thereâ€™s going to he some hitting out there.â€
INACTIVES: The Ravens deactivated cornerback David Pittman, running back P.J. Daniels, fullback Nick Luchey, safety Gerome Sapp (thigh), linebacker Dan Cody (knee), offensive guard Ikechuku Ndukwe, defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison and wide receiver Devard Darling.
MILESTONES: Wide receiver Derrick Mason caught his 600th career pass. Heap surpassed 3,500 receiving yards for his career.
QUICK HITS: This will be the Ravensâ€™ fourth playoff appearance in the past seven seasons. â€¦ The win improved the Ravens to 6-1 at home this season and represented Baltimoreâ€™s fourth win over an AFC North team, sweeping Cleveland for the fourth time since 1999 and for the first time since 2003. â€¦ Baltimore improved to 47-1 under Billick when they have at least a 14-point lead, including eight wins this season. â€¦ The Ravens improved to 25-8 when Jamal Lewis scores at least one rushing touchdown and are 6-0 this season. This was his sixth 100-yard game against the Browns.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland