Street Talk RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Ravens’ offensive line contains Harrison, Woodley

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PITTSBURGH – Joe Flacco seemingly had an eternity of time to scan through his reads.

The Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback was only sacked once and hit twice the entire game.

That’s a rare feat considering the Ravens’ opponent Sunday was the aggressive Pittsburgh Steelers with a defense headlined by Pro Bowl outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.

They combined for 23 ½ sacks last season, but managed none Sunday during the Ravens’ 17-14 victory at Heinz Field.

“You can break down coverage eventually if you have a chance in terms of protection,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I think the credit goes to our offensive line. As the game wore on, they got to feel we were square, we were in position.

“It was good fundamental football and they got those guys blocked. That’s the best pass rush group in the league right now, and our guys got them blocked.”

During the Ravens’ 20-17 loss last December, Woodley spun past Ravens offensive tackle Oniel Cousins for consecutive sacks.

He had no success, though, against right tackle Marshal Yanda.

Yanda stood his ground and stonewalled Woodley repeatedly.

“He’s a great player,” Yanda said. “I just tried to stay in my fundamentals and techniques. As a group, we did a great job. That’s tough on the road. You just have to be calm, don’t overreact, settle in there and focus on who you got and try to get it done to the best of your ability.”

Woodley was limited to five tackles, one for a loss and one quarterback hit.

He entered the game with two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.

“You just try your best and you’re happy with the outcome,” Yanda said. “He’s a great player and I did my best on him. You try to block him to the best of your ability.

“It wasn’t pretty on some plays, but he’s a damn good player. Getting him blocked as long as you can get him blocked, that’s the most important thing.”

In two games last season the Steelers totaled nine sacks against Baltimore.

Harrison entered the game with three sacks, but was held to six tackles, one for a loss and no sacks.

Left tackle Michael Oher blocked him most of the time.

Oher wasn’t entirely pleased with his game, though.

He jumped offsides once in the first quarter and was penalized for holding Harrison in the second quarter.

“I’m pretty sure once we go back and watch the film, we can do a lot of things better,” Oher said. “For the most part, we did all right. I’m pretty sure we’ll have to make a lot of corrections, too. Harrison’s a great player. I did all right.”

KRUGER, CODY GET INVOLVED: For the first time this season, defensive end Paul Kruger and rookie nose guard Terrence “Mount” Cody got on the field.

Kruger recorded a sack and forced fumble that was negated by a penalty and was credited with no tackles and one pass deflection. He also jumped offsides and was flagged for holding on a kickoff return.

“I think I played well,” Kruger said. “I had a few mistakes I should not have had. There was a little bit of rust. It took me a couple of plays to wake up and figure out the game and the tempo. After that, it comes back pretty quickly.”

Meanwhile, Cody made his regular-season debut.

He didn’t carry out all of his assignments properly, though.

In his first game since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on a torn meniscus in late August, the second-round draft pick from Alabama wasn’t credited with any statistics.

“It felt good,” Cody said. “I made a couple of mistakes. It was a few assignments I missed. I thought I played real good for the most part.”

INJURY UPDATES: Kruger was limping after the game with a sprained left knee that was wrapped up, but emphasized it’s not serious.

“I got dinged,” he said. “I sprained my knee a little bit. I should be fine. I’ll be all right.”

McGahee said he absorbed a helmet-to-helmet hit from Harrison on a play where he fumbled.

McGahee remained on the bench for the remainder of the game.

“I didn’t have a concussion,” McGahee said. “I could have went back in, but they didn’t need me to do that.”

McClain said he suffered a mild shoulder stinger on a collision with Steelers safety Ryan Clark in the third quarter.

“It was just my arm,” McClain said. “I’ve got no pain at all right now. It went numb. It went away fast.”

STEPPING IN:  McGahee started his first game since last October against the New England Patriots, rushing for 39 yards on 14 carries as well as a nine-yard touchdown run.

McGahee faked linebacker James Farrior to the ground and eluded the grasp of linebacker Lawrence Timmons to get in the end zone.

“It was fun,” McGahee said. “It’s nothing different. I’m used to being out there. I just went out there right away this time.”

Rice rushed for just 20 yards in eight carries after bruising his right knee last week against the Cleveland Browns.

“Going into the game, I knew I wasn’t going to start,” said Rice, who was limited in practice last week and listed as questionable on the injury report. “I’ve proven that I can play through injury. With knee injuries, you have to have confidence. Once you get over the first hit, it felt good to go.

“It was just a bruise. Let me put my foot in the ground, cut and be Ray Rice, even on that grass. I definitely felt good.”

WHAT A FEELING: Rice can already anticipate the embarrassment.

He leapt into Flacco’s arms in celebration after the game-winning touchdown pass.

“I don’t know if that’ the most excited you’ve seen me,” Rice said. “I hope nobody snapped a picture of me jumping into his arms. Hey, Joe. I hope we don’t hit the billboard in the locker room for me jumping into your arms after that throw. It was a great feeling.”

BIG GAME: Cornerback Lardarius Webb broke up a pass in the end zone intended for swift wide receiver Mike Wallace, displaying good recovery speed when he was initially beaten on the route.

Wallace was held to two catches for 24 yards and no scores. He entered the game averaging 26 yards per reception.

“We knew coming into the game that he was going to be a deep threat, so we had to take that away,” Webb said.  “He’s a fast guy, and he runs great routes.  My whole week was focusing on making sure he didn’t beat me deep.  He didn’t have a game on me.”

GREAT CATCH: Mason delivered an acrobatic juggling catch after initially bobbling a Flacco throw.

He caught six passes for 80 yards. He also broke his media silence.

“I was just able to adjust to the ball,” Mason said. “It was a lucky catch.”

QUICK HITS:  The Ravens’ game captains were kicker Billy Cundiff, nose guard Kelly Gregg and tight end Todd Heap. … The Ravens deactivated defensive end Cory Redding (concussion), linebackers Edgar Jones (thigh) and Tavares Gooden (dislocated left shoulder), wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth (broken left foot), offensive tackle Jared Gaither (thoracic disc injury), cornerbacks Josh Wilson and Prince Miller and defensive tackle Arthur Jones. … The Steelers deactivated offensive guard Trai Essex (ankle), nose guard Chris Hoke (knee), running back Jonathan Dwyer, offensive tackle Tony Hills, linebacker Thaddeus Gibson, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Crezdon Butler. … Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward caught only two passes for 14 yards.


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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 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.  More from Aaron Wilson


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