RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Foxworth exploits Cutler miscues, Webb done for the season

Street Talk RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Foxworth exploits Cutler miscues, Webb done for the season

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BALTIMORE — Domonique Foxworth broke on the football as if he was reading erratic Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s mind.

That anticipation triggered a predictable result.

The Baltimore Ravens’ cornerback intercepted a Cutler throw intended for Devin Aromashodu on the fourth play of the game to set up a touchdown during a 31-7 victory Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

It was a case of an accurate scouting report about the Bears’ living-on-the-edge gunslinger leading to the first multiple-interception game of Foxworth’s career.

“It was film study,” Foxworth said. “It was something that I kind of anticipated in five or six plays in that situation. I assumed they were running one of those plays, and I guessed right.”

Anticipation and instincts paid off again for Foxworth, who intercepted a second Cutler pass intended for Aromashodu in the fourth quarter.

It was probably Foxworth’s top game with the Ravens since signing a four-year, $27.2 million contract during the offseason.

“I don’t know if I’m going to say I’m playing my best now,” Foxworth said. “There were definitely some opportunities.. I could have had four interceptions.

“I really believe that. There are some situations where I could have done something different.”

Cutler threw three interceptions and posted a 7.9 passer rating, the lowest opposing quarterback rating in Baltimore franchise history.

An oft-maligned secondary that struggled to prevent big plays earlier this season has now intercepted six passes in the past three weeks and has 11 interceptions in the past six games.

Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson had the most acrobatic interception, batting a Cutler pass with his right hand before hauling it in with both hands.

“I can’t catch it right off,” he said. “So, I have to tip it in the air.”

The Ravens’ six turnovers on four interceptions and two forced fumbles ties a team record.

And they’re now 49-0 when they post at least a plus-two turnover ratio this decade.

“Compliments to our defense with the turnovers,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I think that’s pretty amazing to be able to get them to turn the ball over six times, but then to capitalize like we did with the points that’s what really makes it count. That was probably the difference in the game.”

WEBB TEARS ACL: Rookie standout cornerback Lardarius Webb’s season is over due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

The starting cornerback was on crutches after the game.

Webb is scheduled to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam today to confirm the initial prognosis.

“Right now, I’m not optimistic,” Harbaugh said. “If he can play for us the rest of the way, we’re all going to breathe a sigh of relief.”

Webb declined to comment afterward, saying, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

The Ravens, who are now expected to start Chris Carr on the opposite side of Foxworth, were immediately bracing for the worst.

“I just think that hurts,” middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. “You try to replace people, but you can’t. I mourn for a kid like that. He was playing so great for us, and now he’s probably out for the rest of the year.

“He really has been huge for us . You never want to see those things happen, but in this business those things happen. You just have to keep moving on.”

This marks the second major injury to a starting cornerback this season.

Fabian Washington also is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

“Our team in general is pretty deep,” Foxworth said. “Webb stepped up when Fabian went down. Now that Webb is down, someone else will step up. Anytime somebody goes down, you have a ton of concern. I’m concerned.” 
INJURY UPDATE: Wide receiver Mark Clayton didn’t play for the second week in a row due to a knee and hamstring injury.

He expressed confidence that he’ll be back for next week’s pivotal game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“No doubt about next week,” he said. “I think it’s good.”

Wide receiver Kelley Washington missed his second consecutive game with an ankle injury.

He predicted that he’ll be back next week.

WILDCAT RETURNS: The Ravens unearthed the Wildcat offense on Sunday.

Backup quarterback Troy Smith, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State, ran the offense and rushed for 17 yards on six carries with a long run of eight yards on an option run to the right.

“Obviously certain times come up when I can get in there and help out,” Smith said. “We practiced it a little bit. When your number is called, you have to be ready.”

Added offensive coordinator Cam Cameron: “Sometimes you play a team that’s not quite as familiar with you and we just felt like the timing was right. Especially when we’d struggled a little bit in the scoring zone. We just felt like this was the time to mix it in there a little bit.”

Smith threw an interception in the fourth quarter on a misfired throw intended for Demetrius Williams.

He completed 2 of 4 passes for 10 yards and no touchdowns.

“I ain’t going to say it’s like riding a bike, because I don’t really do stuff like that,” Smith said when asked about his role in the Wildcat. “They put ‘special” plays in for you, but I’ve been a quarterback since I was seven years old. All that special stuff, I don’t know anything about it. I know about throwing touchdowns and completing passes.”

TOUCHDOWN ALLOWED: The Ravens yielded a 49-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first half when Earl Bennett caught a short Sam Koch kick and raced up the right sideline before diving in for the score.

It was the first punt return allowed for a score by Baltimore since a Jan. 6, 2006 game against the Cleveland Browns when Dennis Northcutt ran one back.

“It wasn’t the best hit, it wasn’t the worst hit,” Koch said. “I thought I hit it better than I did. It didn’t go up. It kind of went toward the middle of the field.

“When you get one of those, stuff happens when coverage is expecting it to be to the right and it goes down the middle. It’s unfortunate.”

OFF DAY: A high snap from normally accurate long snapper Matt Katula led to Billy Cundiff missing a 30-yard chip shot wide right.

 “That’s something I don’t do,” Katula said. “I hate when I do something that affects somebody else because I should just be unseen and unnoticed, and that’s on me.. That’s not on Billy. That’s unacceptable.”

Katula dismissed a suggestion that an elbow injury from earlier this season is affecting his snaps.

“No, it’s not,” he said. “It was a freak thing. I’ll look at the film to see if I can see something. I’m going to try to fix it.”

MILESTONE REACHED: Veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason’s first reception of the game gave him 850 receptions for his career.

He caught six passes for 87 yards and one touchdown. Now, he’s up to 855 catches to pass Irving Fryar on the NFL’s all-time receptions chart to rank 15th in league history.

“You know, 850 is great going into the playoffs,” Mason said. “But 850 is nothing if you’re sitting home once the playoffs start. For me, it’s about hard work.”

CONTRIBUTOR: Wide receiver Demetrius Williams is stepping up at a time when the Ravens need him the most.

He caught four passes for 71 yards, including an acrobatic, leaping 32-yard touchdown.

“Just trying to make a play,” he said. “Every time the ball goes up into the air, the quarterbacks are expecting us to come down with it or nobody come down with it.

“At that point, it’s just about protecting the ball and trying to make a play. It’s just one of those things where there’s always something you can improve on as a receiver.”

Williams hasn’t played much this season after being beat out by Washington for the third receiver job during the preseason.

He has caught seven passes for 133 yards this season with most of that production coming over the past two weeks due to injuries to Clayton and Washington.

“His lack of playing time was a tribute to how well Mark Clayton was playing at times and Kelley Washington,” Cameron said. “Now they’re both down and he stepped up. He really bought into what we’re doing.

“We kept telling him to stay ready, and he stayed ready. I think a lot of credit goes to Demetrius.”

QUICK HITS: Rookie offensive tackle Michael Oher started again on the left side with Jared Gaither out with a foot injury. “We did okay in pass protection, but gave up a couple of sacks,” he said. “That’s something we have to clean up.  We just have to keep working and keep it up.” … Oniel Cousins started on the right side for the second game in a row and appeared to play pretty well. “Oniel Cousins played very little football, he just played a couple of years in college,” Harbaugh said. “He was kind of new to the position, and nobody has worked harder than our coaches to get him ready.” Added Cousins: “There are some things I learned and some plays I’d like to take back. I’ll try to do better. I’m trying to get better every week.” … Reserve cornerback Cary Williams forced rookie Johnny Knox to fumble in the second half on a kickoff to set up a touchdown. “I noticed when he tried to accelerate that the ball was kind of out,” Williams said. “He didn’t really have it and what I tried to do was shoot my hand across and get my helmet on the ball and it popped out.” Williams was recently signed off of the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad. “I learned a lot in Tennessee, but obviously they didn’t feel like I was capable of playing on Sundays for whatever reason,” he said. “I came to Baltimore and they welcomed me in. Everybody around here practices with enthusiasm and I think that’s what has helped me so far in my career.” … Picked on by Brett Favre during a loss to the Minnesota Vikings earlier this season, oft-criticized reserve cornerback Frank Walker intercepted a Caleb Hanie pass in the fourth quarter. “I ain’t seen it yet, I just got lucky,” Walker said. “It’s better to be lucky.” … Promoted from the practice squad on Saturday when defensive tackle Brandon McKinney was placed on injured reserve, defensive back Marcus Paschal is excited to be on the active roster. “It felt real good,” he said. “It’s a real big jump, but I feel ready for it. I’ve learned a lot in the last four weeks. I just want to help the team. Coach Harbaugh was my secondary coach in Philadelphia. I worked hard and got the opportunity to come up here. I’m excited to come out on the field and help my team.” Besides Clayton, Washington and Gaither, the Ravens deactivated third quarterback John Beck, free safety Ed Reed (strained groin, foot), safety K.J. Gerard (thigh), linebacker Tavares Gooden (groin), offensive lineman David Hale and offensive tackle Jared Gaither (foot). Dannell Ellerbe started in place of Gooden. Tom Zbikowski started in place of Reed. … The Bears deactivated offensive tackle Orlando Pace (groin), defensive tackles Jarron Gilbert and Matt Toeaina, offensive tackle James Marten, cornerback D.J. Moore, wide receiver Devin Hester (groin), safety Craig Steltz and wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias. … The Ravens saluted the 1,754 workers who worked overnight to clear snow from the stadium and parking lots. … The Ravens’ game captains were quarterback Joe Flacco, middle linebacker Ray Lewis, offensive guard Ben Grubbs, defensive lineman Dwan Edwards and linebacker Prescott Burgess.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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