Those skills translated on the NFL level on Sunday during the Baltimore Ravens’ 30-7 victory over the previously undefeated Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium.
The rookie cornerback returned the opening kickoff of the second half 95 yards for a touchdown.
“Everybody just got their man,” Webb said. “I just saw a hole and ran as fast as I can. We’ve been working all week on getting our man and staying on him for more than a second.
“They blocked it great. I’ve got to take them out to eat or something. It really set a tone for the whole team. It was an important runback.”
Webb didn’t need much time to break away from the Broncos’ pursuit at the Ravens’ 30-yard line before reversing field to his right.
It turned into a one-sided footrace from there as Webb turned on his 4.35 speed.
“I’ll take my speed every day,” he said. “I saw people on my side and I said, ‘Let me get to the sideline.’”
After his first career NFL touchdown, Webb didn’t have any big plays to celebrate the achievement.
“I’m just going to go home and chill and thank the Lord,” he said. “Just going to go home and relax.”
HAUSCHKA REBOUNDS: Kicker Steve Hauschka responded to the pressure generated by his missed field goal that prevented the Ravens from pulling off a comeback win in a 33-31 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
This time, he booted a career-high three field goals.
And that started with a 43-yard kick in the first quarter that was eerily similar to the one he missed at the Metrodome.
“It’s definitely been a tough couple of weeks for me,” Hauschka said. “I’m thankful that I responded well. Our whole team was dwelling on the losses and wanted to move on.
“The guys on the team support me and know I’m going to be a great kicker around here. It’s painful to miss a kick that could have won a game, but I learned from it.”
Hauschka also converted kicks from 35 and 31 yards.
“He redeemed himself,” said punter Sam Koch, Hauschka’s holder. “He did a great job, very steady. He reacted to that miss and he proved himself.”
Heading into the game, Hauschka’s bruised right foot prompted the Ravens to try out kickers Mike Nugent and Connor Barth as a precautionary measure on Saturday.
“I knew the team was going to do that,” Hauschka said. “I assured them that I knew I was ready to play.”
Now, Hauschka is hoping that this game will quiet some of the concerns that have been expressed about the team not retaining veteran kicker Matt Stover after last season.
“It’s such a game of confidence,” he said. “You can’t go out there scared. From a confidence standpoint, this helped me a lot. I look forward to the next game.”
INJURY UPDATE: Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata sprained his right ankle, but isn’t being ruled out for next week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
He’s scheduled to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam today. X-rays taken Sunday were negative.
Ngata left the game in the third quarter and had his ankle re-taped twice. It never felt comfortable, though, and he didn’t return.
Backup safety Haruki Nakamura strained a stomach muscle.
Inside linebacker Tavares Gooden started despite a slight concussion, registering two tackles.
“It felt great to be out there flying around,” Gooden said. “I felt fine. I knew I was going to play.”
MASON LOSES HIS TEMPER: Wide receiver Derrick Mason was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in the first half when he tossed his helmet on the sideline after Broncos cornerback Alphonso Smith grabbed the back of his jersey and didn’t draw a penalty.
Mason said that the official told him that he didn’t see the infraction, which was repeatedly replayed on the video scoreboard.
“It was a blatant holding,” Mason said. “He said he didn’t see it. That’s like me watching my kid at the playground and he runs out into the street and gets hit, and I tell my family that I wasn’t watching my son.
“You’re the only person watching him. So, why aren’t you watching him? But it’s all good. After 13 years, I guess you still don’t get the respect that you sometimes think you deserve."
Mason apologized to coach John Harbaugh on the sidelines.
“I got pissed off,” he said. “Sometimes, you got to get pissed off. I didn’t mean to get the penalty. I didn’t mean to show up the referee. Coach understood the frustration. Hopefully, one of these days I’ll get a call when it counts.”
OPPORTUNITY LOST: Outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson both dropped potential interceptions.
Suggs could have probably scored on his drop near the Broncos’ 40-yard line in the first half.
“I made the play before and went to the crib,” said Suggs, who scored two touchdowns last season on interceptions. “I wish I had it. It just goes to show that sometimes you’ve just got to let the play happen. I was too anxious to try to make it, but I guarantee it will never happen again.
“I’ll never drop another one. It was just me and Orton. I would have showed you all my high school moves. I was going to the crib.”
STOPPING BRANDON MARSHALL: Broncos Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall was limited to four catches for 24 yards.
His longest gain was only nine yards as the Ravens did a good job of blanketing the 6-foot-4, 230-pound receiver after struggling against several other big wideouts this season.
“The big thing was not letting Brandon Marshall catch the ball,” said cornerback Fabian Washington, who was back in the starting lineup after being benched in Minnesota when he struggled against Sidney Rice. “Once he catches it, he runs over guys and gets his yards because he’s so big and he can break tackles.”
Added cornerback Domonique Foxworth: “You have to tackle him right away because they’re going to devise ways to get their best player the ball. You have to be patient, wrap him up and hold on.”
QUICK HITS: Ed Reed and Broncos veteran safety Brian Dawkins exchanged jerseys after the game in a display of respect more commonly practiced in international soccer. “I always try to do that when I play against guys that I respect,” Dawkins said. Added Reed: “I’ve been watching him for a long time now, he was one of the players I looked up to as a safety and as a man. He encouraged me, told me to keep on doing what I do. It’s big just being on the same field with him. It’s an honor.” … The Ravens deactivated veteran cornerback Frank Walker for the first time this season after he struggled in relief of Fabian Washington against the Vikings. Walker gave up a 58-yard reception to Sidney Rice that led to the Vikings’ game-winning field goal, also being penalized for a 39-yard pass interference penalty. Only four cornerbacks were activated for the game as Webb saw increased playing time in the nickel package. … The Ravens also deactivated third quarterback John Beck, linebackers Antwan Barnes and Paul Kruger, nose guard Kelly Talavou, running back Jalen Parmale and offensive tackles Tony Moll and Oniel Cousins. … The Broncos scratched third quarterback Tom Brandstater, wide receivers Kenny McKinley and Brandon Lloyd, running back LaMont Jordan, offensive guard Seth Olsen, offensive tackle Brandon Gorin and outside linebacker Jarvis Moss. … The Ravens’ game captains were tight end Edgar Jones, running back Ray Rice and defensive end Trevor Pryce.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.