In retrospect, Ravens coach Brian Billick acknowledged his team suffered a slight emotional letdown after watching running back Musa Smith break his leg in the first quarter of Sunday's 30-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Smith had just run for 12 yards, the longest of the day for the Ravens, to convert a third-and-1 when Cowboys safety Roy Williams took him down with a shoulder-high tackle, bending Smith's leg awkwardly in one of the most grotesque hits of the year.
The hit happened right in front of the Ravens' sideline, and watching Smith scream in pain before being carted off the field with his leg in an air cast took some of the fight out of the Ravens' offense.
"Musa, as tragic as that was happening right in front of the bench and everybody seeing it and being a part of it, I think it did temper us a little bit," Billick said. "I don't want to use that as an excuse, don't get me wrong. But I think the emotional edge that you have to play with in this game, I think it affected this team.
"We were able to regroup at the half and come back out and regain that emotional edge, but it was a tough thing to do."
Smith had successful surgery yesterday and will be placed on injured reserved by the end of this week. The Ravens could use his roster spot to activate Peter Boulware from the physically-unable-to-perform list, a decision they must make by Friday.
As for Smith, who suffered a compound fracture of his right tibia, he is expected to make a full recovery and be ready to play by the regular season next year.
"He's obviously done for the year, but they are very optimistic about his ability, unlike [tight end] Trent Smith and that injury, which turned out to be an 18-month injury. This is not as severe," Billick said. "It's not as many pieces."
Meanwhile, the Ravens will work out running backs today and may sign one before the start of practice tomorrow. If the team does so, the Ravens will have to make another roster move to accommodate Boulware.
Some of the more experienced running backs available include James Jackson, Jamel White, Aveion Cason, Trung Canidate, Lamar Smith, Stacey Mack and James Stewart. A good fit would be Jackson, who spent four mostly difficult seasons with the Cleveland Browns before the team released him last Tuesday. He has 16 career starts and rushed for 382 yards last year.
Jackson, a third-round pick in 2001, asked for his release because he was unhappy with his playing time. He would be the fourth former Brown to come to the Ravens.
"We'll bring in some guys, much like we did the punters, the tight ends," Billick said. "We've got the routine down very good."
The Ravens are expecting the return of cornerback Chris McAlister from a neck injury that kept him out of the Cowboys game. The status of nickel back Deion Sanders (toe) and tight end Todd Heap (ankle) will be determined later this week.
Trick but no treat
For the second straight game, the Ravens tried a trick play and found no success.
Receiver Randy Hymes took a handoff from quarterback Kyle Boller and was supposed to throw it back across the field to Boller, but Hymes instead had to throw it out of bounds because of intense pressure.
"It was wide-open to Kyle," Billick said. "They got good pressure. But Kyle was wide-open. We worked on it all week and hit it. I'm afraid of what Kyle would have done in the end zone with the ball because what he did during the week was ugly."
Billick forewarned his players to avoid any extracurricular activity with the Cowboys in light of the fights in the NBA and college football.
The Ravens were not hit with any unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties, and taunting was kept to a minimum.
"I cautioned them on Saturday morning," Billick said. "Our league does a very good job with it, and you have to imagine that the officials were briefed about anything that goes on, and that they were going to jump on it aggressively. I didn't want to see us get an erroneous flag or someone being ejected as an overreaction to what happened Friday night."
Once is enough
Cameras caught safeties Ed Reed and Will Demps playing a friendly game of `rock, paper, scissors,' to decide who would blitz last on a play against the New York Jets, but the two did not have a chance to use the same method against Cowboys quarterback Vinny Testaverde. "We didn't do it," Reed said laughing.
They did not need to. The Ravens' front four was able to get ample pressure on Testaverde, sacking him only once but forcing him into 13 incompletions on 22 attempts.
Next for Ravens
Matchup: Ravens (7-3) vs. New England Patriots (9-1)
Site: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.
When: Sunday, 4:15 p.m.
TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)
Line: Off the board