OAKLAND, Calif. — - Dannell Ellerbe had the kind of day rookies dream about.
The inside linebacker intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble on back-to-back possessions to help the Ravens beat the Oakland Raiders, 21-13, at Oakland-Alameda County Stadium on Sunday.
Coach John Harbaugh called Ellerbe's performance the turning point of the game.
"For a rookie linebacker to come up with two turnovers - which was the difference in the football game - is amazing," Harbaugh said. "He works hard, he's a very smart football player, and he's in the right place twice."
Starting in place of the injured Tavares Gooden (groin) for the third consecutive week, Ellerbe stepped in front of a third-quarter pass from JaMarcus Russell that was intended for tight end Zach Miller.
After the Ravens converted that turnover into points on a touchdown run by Willis McGahee, the defense stopped an Oakland drive into Ravens territory when linebacker Antwan Barnes stripped Russell and Ellerbe pounced on the loose ball.
"We were in a cover-2, and I just dropped into my zone," Ellerbe said, recalling his plays. "He threw it into my area, so I went and got it. As for the fumble, I didn't know it was a fumble at first. I thought it was an incomplete pass."
Ellerbe was a free agent signed by the Ravens after the NFL draft and made the team's 53-man active roster. In that short time, he has leapfrogged Jameel McClain and Prescott Burgess to start beside linebacker Ray Lewis in the interior of the defense.
"It's a blessing and a dream at the same time," Ellerbe said. "I came from a long way. Battled injuries these last two years and just to be healthy right now and playing with this defense alongside Ray Lewis, it's just a dream."
Shaking off the rust Ed Reed
estimated that he was only about 80 percent or 85 percent healthy, but that was plenty for the free safety to return for the first time in five weeks.
Reed, who hadn't played since Nov. 29, finished with five tackles, but perhaps more importantly, he left the stadium unscathed.
"I just tried to get the rust off as best as I could, but it was still there," Reed said. "I didn't want to come back next week and feel how I felt today. Not hurting today, it's encouraging going into this week. Just trying to get back to 100 percent."
Besides Reed, linebacker-defensive end Terrell Suggs
, wide receiver Derrick Mason
and offensive tackle Jared Gaither
were active for the regular-season finale.
Reed (strained groin/foot), Suggs (sprained ligament in right knee) and Mason (knee) had been listed as questionable for today's game. Gaither (foot) was probable.
The Ravens also deactivated offensive linemen Tony Moll and David Hale, defensive tackle Kelly Talavou, wide receiver Justin Harper, cornerback Marcus Paschal and safety Keith Fitzhugh. John Beck was the third (emergency) quarterback.
Rude welcome Chris Carr
got the reception he was anticipating.
The cornerback/return specialist returned to the franchise that drafted him for the first time since leaving after the 2007 season, and he was booed whenever his name was announced.
"A lot of fans I'm used to seeing were really cool," said Carr, who recorded six tackles and returned two punts for 33 yards. "But I knew the majority - any former guy, they have to act like they don't like him. It was kind of funny a little bit, but I don't worry about the crowd."
Another week, another big return for Jalen Parmele
After taking a kickoff back a career-best 48 yards last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Parmele outdid himself with a 53-yard return in the second quarter.
"My biggest thing is to run what I see," said Parmele, who returned four kickoffs for 138 yards (a 34.5 average). "I don't want to get too overanxious to where I miss holes and stuff. I just want to run to what I see is there and be patient with it."
The Raiders deactivated three starters in running back Justin Fargas
(knee), left guard Langston Walker
(ankle) and cornerback Chris Johnson
(hamstring). Michael Bush
started for Fargas, Chris Morris
replaced Walker, and Stanford Routt
filled in for Johnson. Oakland also scratched wide receivers Javon Walker
and former University of Maryland player Darrius Heyward-Bey
(foot), quarterback Bruce Gradkowski
(knees) and defensive end Greyson Gunheim
. J.P. Losman
was the third (emergency) quarterback. … The Ravens registered their 20th, 21st and 22nd rushing touchdowns of the season, which ties them with the Miami Dolphins for the most touchdown runs in the NFL this season. Oakland surrendered 24 rushing touchdowns, which surpasses the St. Louis Rams (23) for the worst in the league. ... Linebackers Lewis and McClain, defensive tackle Kelly Gregg
, running back Ray Rice
, quarterback Joe Flacco
and Reed represented the Ravens for the pre-game coin toss.
Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Eck contributed to this article.