A team effort to stop Cribbs

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Ravens' Ayanbadejo trips Browns player with a little help

Ravens Gameday

November 03, 2008|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,ken.murray@baltsun.com

CLEVELAND - On a day when Cleveland's Joshua Cribbs turned every Ravens' kick into a white-knuckle thrill ride, Brendon Ayanbadejo had the final answer.

With the score tied at 27 early in the fourth quarter and field position hanging in the balance, Ayanbadejo tripped up Cribbs at the Browns' 16 for no gain. Then the Ravens' special teams ace sat back on his haunches and raised his arms in exultation.

"I think you're playing against the best dude in the league," Ayanbadejo said of Cribbs. "It was Devin Hester last year, Cribbs this year. The guy is what he is."

The fourth-quarter tackle was one of three special teams stops, with one assist, in the game for Ayanbadejo. But it was the biggest. A holding penalty on the play and an offensive pass-interference call on Kellen Winslow pushed the Browns back to their 4-yard line to start the series.

When Ray Rice bolted 60 yards, the Ravens had turned field position again and wound up getting a 22-yard Matt Stover field goal and the lead out of the exchange. Ayanbadejo credited punter Sam Koch with helping him make a rare stop on Cribbs.

"It was a great kick by Sam," Ayanbadejo said. "I definitely couldn't have made the tackle I did unless Sam put the ball exactly where he did. ... You punt left, and I'm playing with two people, me and the sideline. The sideline never misses a tackle. It was my job to get the play."

Koch gave Cribbs enough chances and paid for it with a 31.5 yard net average. Cribbs returned two other punts for 41 yards. He also got Cleveland into the game early with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, his first of the season and the fifth of his career.

"His big thing is he's never going to let one guy take him down," Ayanbadejo said. "You're playing the game with heightened awareness [against Cribbs]. You have to. Everything has to be on full go. That guy can do anything."

Super sub

The Ravens had shortages all over the field, but Rice, with 154 rushing yards, negated the loss of Willis McGahee at running back. McGahee was questionable with an ankle injury that kept him out of much of practice last week. Although he dressed and was available, the Ravens were hoping not to use him.

"We kind of put him in the emergency back mode this week," coach John Harbaugh said. "I thought Willis did a great job all week of getting that thing right. He was banged up. When we came back Wednesday and Thursday, he really couldn't practice at all.

"He could've gone [yesterday] if we needed him, and he wanted to go. But Ray Rice and Le'Ron McClain did a tremendous job."

Cornerback update

Cornerback Chris McAlister missed the trip while he awaits a diagnosis on his injured knee. Harbaugh said McAlister will see another doctor today before making any determination about possible having season-ending surgery.

"He's fighting to come back and play, and we want him to come back playing," Harbaugh said. "If it's at all possible to him to come back and play, I think he's doing to."

The Ravens' other injured starting cornerback, Samari Rolle, made the trip and Harbaugh said he believes there's a "good chance" Rolle will play next week in Houston.

End zone

The Ravens had a scary moment in the fourth quarter when defensive tackle Haloti Ngata dropped to his knees with a stinger and had to leave the field. But he returned to the game and appeared to be fine afterward. ... The Ravens' game-day captains were defensive tackle Justin Bannan, offensive tackle Willie Anderson and safety/kick returner Jim Leonhard. ... The Ravens' inactive list included McAlister and Rolle, safety Dawan Landry, defensive tackle Lamar Divens, wide receivers Terrance Copper and Marcus Smith, tight end Daniel Wilcox and kicker Steve Hauschka.

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