RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Suggs sizzles against Colts

Street Talk RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Suggs sizzles against Colts

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BALTIMORE – If Terrell Suggs keeps demolishing offenses the way he dismantled the Indianapolis Colts, the Baltimore Ravens’ Pro Bowl outside linebacker will find himself zeroing in on NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors.

During the Ravens’ 24-10 victory over the Colts on Sunday, Suggs sacked quarterback Dan Orlovsky three times and forced three fumbles.

Now, Suggs leads the Ravens with a career-high 13 sacks with three remaining games and has also intercepted two passes.

“Terrell Suggs was just a game-wrecker,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said . “He was a game-wrecker in the run. He was a game-wrecker in the pass rush. He’s playing great football.”

Suggs dominated rookie offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo, the Colts’ prize first-round draft pick from Boston College.

And the Ravens limited the Colts to 50 rushing yards.

“We shut the run down early, and they had to start passing the ball,” defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. “That’s when Terrell Suggs went crazy.”

This marks the third game this season that Suggs has recorded three sacks.

And the four-time Pro Bowl pass rusher has recorded seven sacks in the past four games while All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis has been sidelined with a right turf toe injury.

“It only counts if we get to Indy and the confetti drops,” Suggs said. “Right now, we are all just doing our parts holding levees until the general gets back. This is still Ray Lewis’ team. He is still the general of this team. We can’t wait until he gets back out there doing the things that he does great.”

Suggs hit Orlovsky so often that he became visibly gun-shy.

“He’s as good a pass rusher as I’ve played against,” Orlovsky said. “I can’t say anything about him as a football player.”

About the only thing that didn’t go right was the Ravens’ failure to recover any of the three fumbles that Suggs caused.

“We have to start finding them,” Suggs said. “It’s chaos out there. It’s like ‘The Matrix’ out there with a little bit of ‘The Inception.’ It’s a little bit crazy. We’re just going to keep striving to get better.”

What does it look like from the vantage point of the secondary with Suggs leading the charge as the Ravens lead the NFL with 45 sacks.

“Any time you get the front seven eating like their eating, those jokers want their supper,” strong safety Bernard Pollard said. “It’s exciting for us.”

CUNDIFF COMES THROUGH: Despite a sore left calf, Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff managed to kick effectively enough Sunday.

He connected on his lone field goal try from 36 yards and converted three extra points.

The only limitation on Cundiff was not kicking off in the second half as punter Sam Koch took over kickoffs after halftime.

“It was one of those things we have to be very careful about,” Cundiff said. “That was the mindset of the game. If I can’t kick off, then we’ve got Sam and he can do that. With my calf, I knew I could kick field goals. It was just the stress on the kickoffs. I felt like it wasn’t my best day, but it was good enough that I could kick.”

Cundiff got injured Thursday and missed practice Friday, returning Saturday.

The Ravens brought in former Pro Bowl kicker Shayne Graham for a tryout Friday, but wound up not signing him because Cundiff’s condition improved.

“We needed to make sure we took care of it,” Cundiff said. “We were very cautious with it.”

Cundiff expressed confidence that he’ll be able to kick next week against the San Diego Chargers.

“I’m going to kick next week,” he said. “It’s just a matter of seeing how things progress this week.”

Cundiff now ranks second on the Ravens’ all-time scoring list ahead of Jamal Lewis with 286 points, ranking second to Matt Stover’s 1,464 points.

Koch was impressed with how Cundiff did given the circumstances.

“He stroked the ball really well,” Koch said. “He still got height on the ball. He just wasn’t able to turn on the ball the way he wanted to. I was able to take the pressure off him and the possibility of making it worse.”

RICE THRIVING: For the third season in a row, Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice has rushed for 1,000 yards.

He’s up to 1,029 rushing yards and leads the AFC with 10 touchdown runs.

He has also caught 62 passes for 593 yards and two scores.

“It means a lot to me,” Rice said. “Anytime I do something, I give my credit to the offensive line. To do three straight, it does say something consistency-wise. I try to just stay the course. Coach Wilbert [Montgomery] was talking about it’s a great accomplishment, but I know there’s a lot more football left, and I always do my reflecting on how the season played out a couple weeks after the season. ..

“I have to say I’m pretty fresh right now considering the amount of workload I had in the first half of the season. I’m not saying I saved my best for the end of the season, but I’m doing a great job of keeping myself fresh. I get a great relief when Ricky Williams is in there.”

INJURY UPDATE: The Ravens reported no new injuries.

Center Matt Birk said his right shoulder that he injured last week held up fine.

“It feels great,” he said. “We won.”

SERGIO SIGHTING: It was a rare occurrence as outside linebacker Sergio Kindle was active for the second time this season.

He played at the end of the game on defense and also lined up on special teams, including the kickoff team, punt return team and kickoff return team.

“Been working too hard not to be out there,” Kindle said. “I was just waiting for my time to come. When it did, I had to make the best of it.”

Kindle registered no statistics, but seemed to play well.

The former second-round draft pick hopes the coaches are noticing progress from him after missing his entire rookie season with a fractured skull.

“That has to be it,” he said. “They won’t put you out there if they don’t think you’re prepared. I know I’ve been working my tail off. So, it’s evident that I’ve progressed from the Jets game to now.”

He lined up at outside linebacker and got off the ball quickly, but didn’t get to the quarterback.

“I don’t think I put my best rush forward,” he said. “Maybe nerves, because I’m a speed rusher and I’m a slender defensive end. The other guy’s pretty big and I’m running down the middle. That’s an automatic loss. I’ve just got to get back to what I do best.”

Kindle is hoping he’ll remain active going forward after becoming a fixture on the inactive list for the majority of the season.

“Definitely,” he said. “That’s the plan.”

LEACH PLAN: Rewarding him for the dirty work he does as a lead blocker, fullback Vonta Leach was given three carries and rushed for 14 yards.

He also caught a pass for seven yards for a first down.

“They threw a dog a bone every once in a while,” Leach said. “It felt good. That’s appreciation.”

For the season, Leach has 11 carries for 34 yards and 12 catches for 51 yards.

“I could always run the ball, I was a former running back in high school,” Leach said. “That’s nothing that I can’t do. It’s pretty good to give the dog a bone every now and then.”

RECORD TIED: Rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith tied running back Jamal Lewis’ franchise rookie record for touchdowns with his sixth scoring catch of the year.

The former University of Maryland standout is second in the NFL among rookies for touchdowns behind Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, who has seven.

Smith finished with five catches for 48 yards.

“Every route is an important route,” Smith said. “It’s part of being a receiver. I’ve only run past guys a couple of times this year. The majority of my catches have been underneath. It’s something I’m learning to d, and I want to be great at.”

THREE IN A ROW: Joe Flacco eclipsed the 3,000-yard passing mark Sunday, his third consecutive year he’s hit that milestone.

Flacco now has 3,122 yards, 15 touchdown passes and nine interceptions this season.

The Ravens were well-balanced in terms of run to pass against the Colts.

“We did well,” Flacco said. “We had some success in both. It wasn’t like we were getting stoned in the passing game and stoned in the running game, and had to pick between one. We were actually able to be successful in running the ball and in throwing the ball, and we did both of those.”

Flacco was intercepted by cornerback Joe Legefed in the end zone.

He was also almost picked off by safety Antoine Bethea, but he dropped a potential interception.

“If I would have caught it, I would have been off to the house, but you have to finish those,” Bethea said. “That play right there was big. It could have changed the game. They went in and scored. It was a big play. I should have had it.”

RED-ZONE SUCCESS: The Ravens converted 3 of 4 red-zone opportunities Sunday and have 10 touchdowns in their past 17 red-zone shots over the past five games.

“It’s something that we can definitely get better at and it goes back to our overall killer instinct," Ravens center Matt Birk said. “When we get teams down, we have to put them away. There’s no reason for us to keep it within striking distance.”

R. LEWIS SIDELINED: All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis was deactivated for the fourth game in a row due to a right turf toe injury.

He’s expected to return next week against the San Diego Chargers.

Dannell Ellerbe started again at middle linebacker, and inside linebacker Jameel McClain led the defense with eight tackles.

“Everybody is just depending on each other,” McClain said. “We’re making sure we depend on each other to do what we have to do.

TOUGH MATCHUP: Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney sacked Flacco twice, beating offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie once.

McKinnie has been playing against Freeney since he was at the University of Miami and the Colts star pass rusher was at Syracuse.

“We go way back,” McKinnie said. “He got one on me, but it was still a great battle. We know we both have to bring our ‘A’ game. His specialty is the pass rush. I’m a shot putter and he’s a sprinter.”

FU MANCHU: For the second time in three games since growing a Fu Manchu mustache also sported by Flacco and Koch, tight end Dennis Pitta caught a touchdown pass.

“The magic continues,” Pitta said.

TAYLOR MADE: The Ravens unveiled another play with rookie backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor on the field.

He lined up at wide receiver as Flacco threw a swing pass.

“They got me on the field,” said Taylor, who rushed for two yards last week out of the shotgun with Flacco lined up at wide receiver. “It could have come my way. I love being out there. Every time I get a chance, I’m ready to make a play.”

EXPECTING: Flacco confirmed that his wife, Dana, is pregnant with their first child.

The couple is excited, but want the sex of the baby to be a surprise.

QUICK HITS: Cornerback Chris Carr missed his third consecutive game with a back injury. … The Ravens also scratched rookie wide receivers LaQuan Williams and Tandon Doss, nose guard Brnadon McKinney, rookie running back Anthony Allen hamstring) and rookie linebacker Chavis Williams. … The Colts deactivated quarterback Peyton Manning (neck surgery), wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (groin), defensive back Mike Holmes, linebackers Kevin Bentley and A.J. Edds, offensive tackle Quinn Ojinnaka and defensive end Jerry Hughes. … The Ravens’ game captains were running back Ricky Williams, outside linebacker Jarret Johnson and strong safety Tom Zbikowski. Zbikowski had a 30-yard kickoff return, his longest of the season. … Former Ravens and Colts coach Ted Marchibroda attended the game. … Wide receiver Lee Evans caught his fourth pass of the season, a 21-yard sideline pattern. “It’s good to be out there,” said Evans, who now has 381 career catches for 6,008 yards. “I think we did a good job. We completed some passes outside and ran the ball effectively all game. We got into a good rhythm.”

 

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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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