A Ravens fan cheers on the Ravens with a dance. Of the announced… (Baltimore Sun photo by Kenneth…)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — — Thanks to an overwhelming number of purple-clad fans, the Ravens felt at home at Bank of America Stadium.
About 40 percent of the announced 73,021 shouted "O" during the national anthem, screamed "Reed" after free safety Ed Reed's interception-and-lateral-for-a-touchdown, and generally converted the home of the Carolina Panthers into Baltimore South.
The support from enthusiastic fans was not lost on the Ravens.
"When I came out for warmups, you could tell," quarterback Joe Flacco said after the team's 37-13 demolition of the Panthers. "It was like a home game down in Carolina. I was actually hearing from some people when we were up in the hotel last night that the whole city's covered in purple and that there was a lot of Ravens fans, and they were right."
Added coach John Harbaugh: "It was amazing. We came out, and it was loud. The famous, patented Baltimore 'O' was as loud as I've heard it on the road. Going around the stadium afterward and seeing the fans, they were fired up and excited to be here. It was a Baltimore stadium."
Ravens fans filled tailgate areas around the stadium and seats vacated by Panthers fans less than thrilled about watching a home team with a 1-8 record.
"It was really cool the way our fans traveled to this one," tight end Todd Heap said. "I thought we outnumbered them in the stadium. It was a lot of fun to hear and see that. I thought it gave us a little bit of an extra boost."
Update on Chester
Starting right guard Chris Chester could miss the next two weeks due to a case of cellulitis, Harbaugh said after Sunday's victory.
Cellulitis is defined by The Mayo Clinic as a serious bacterial skin infection that can spread rapidly and is potentially serious. Cellulitis can affect the tissue lying beneath and skin and can spread through the bloodstream to the lymph nodes. Common symptoms include pain, swelling and a fever, and the Mayo Clinic strongly recommends immediate medical attention if these symptoms occur.
"So he's probably going to be a week or two until it can calm down," Harbaugh said. "We'll just have to see how he is."
Chester, who started the team's first nine games at right guard, was hospitalized Thursday night and was deactivated before Sunday's contest.
"The fever is going down," said Harbaugh, who was unsure whether Chester had been released from the hospital. "They went back a second time and cleaned it out because his fever spiked."
Tony Moll filled in for Chester, and his starting debut with the Ravens went off without a hitch.
Moll made his first start at right guard since Sept. 21, 2008 and did not draw a flag or seem to surrender a sack.
"It's always a good thing to start," Moll said. "It's been awhile since I've done that. Just shaking off the rust and getting rid of that little butterfly feeling before the game. I think I did a decent job, but you never know until you watch the film."
Flacco said the offense worked well with Moll. "We miss Chris. I hope he's back at home getting better right now, but Tony filled in great," Flacco said. "We'll be excited to see Chris in a couple days and welcome him back and get him ready to go. But Tony did a great job filling in."
Defense turns up heat
The defense tied a season-high by sacking Carolina quarterback Brian St. Pierre three times Sunday. Linebackers Terrell Suggs and Jameel McClain and defensive end Paul Kruger each got to St. Pierre, and afterward, McClain credited the defensive line with opening holes for teammates, who also posted six quarterback hurries.
"The D-line got after it," McClain said. "And with the blitz calls, we got a chance to get after them and get them to throw on the quick."
Still, the coaches weren't entirely pleased when told of the final number of sacks.
"That's not enough," Harbaugh said. "We want more. We want more sacks, we want more hurries, we want more quarterback hits. We want more."
Flacco takes blame
Flacco said he, not running back Ray Rice, was responsible for a botched exchange that killed a potential scoring drive in the second quarter.
On third-and-2 from the Panthers' 11-yard line, Flacco appeared to hand off to Rice, who dropped the ball. The fumble was recovered by defensive end Tyler Brayton. But Flacco said he forgot that the play was supposed to be a play-action reverse.
"I went to hand it to Ray, and I put it in his stomach and thought, 'Why isn't he taking it?'" Flacco recalled. "And then I was like, 'Oh yeah, that's why.' So it was all me. I take full responsibility for that."