The Ravens heard the whispers about how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' rushing duo of LeGarrette Blount and Carnell "Cadillac" Williams could gash the defense after the unit allowed the Carolina Panthers' Mike Goodson to barrel for a season-high 120 yards a week earlier.
The Ravens re-asserted their strength by containing Blount and Williams to a combined 74 yards on 17 carries and zero touchdowns in the team's 17-10 win against the Buccaneers at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.
"You always want to rise up to the challenge when you play two good backs," defensive end Cory Redding said. "So we knew that with the power of Blount and the quickness of Cadillac, whenever we saw the run, we had to bow up and stop the run. We stopped them for the most part. They got a couple yards here and there, but that's football, bro."
Blount, an undrafted rookie, had gained at least 72 yards in four of his last five games, but was held to 55 yards. Williams had rushed for a combined 113 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games, but he was limited to 19 yards.
"You have to tip your hat to the Baltimore Ravens," Williams said. "They did a good job to come in and stop our run. There were still plays out there to be made, and we left them on the field."
Blount and Williams got the ball just 10 times in the first half and, trailing by two touchdowns at halftime, the offense relied on quarterback Josh Freeman's right arm to lead the charge.
Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson, who finished second on the Ravens with 10 tackles, said the defense had done plenty of studying on Blount and Williams.
"In the NFL, everybody has high-profile backs. They're not the most high-profile backs, but those kids bring it," Johnson said. "That kid [Blount], I was real impressed with how hard he ran. A big kid, physical guy. They can bring it. We always take it as a personal challenge. Especially last week, giving up all those yards, that was [baloney]."
Reporters who cover the Buccaneers said they witnessed cornerback Aqib Talib get into a dispute with an official after the loss.
Asked about the alleged incident, officiating supervisor Neely Dunn said: "We only make comments to the pool reporter when it's about a call that was made on the field. So we have no comment about whatever you're talking about. That's the only thing I'll say right now."
Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris declined to say whether the exchange included profanity, and he dismissed the notion that the conversation was heated.
"I don't think this is called an altercation," said Morris, who had his own discussion with field judge Boris Cheek after he flagged cornerback Myron Lewis for a 24-yard pass interference that led to Derrick Mason's 10-yard touchdown catch before halftime. "It's called people communicating after the game. That's all they are."
The almost INT
Redding now understands how an opposing receiver feels after having a certain catch broken up by Ray Lewis.
The eighth-year defensive end appeared to intercept the first pass of his career when he pulled in a shovel pass by Freeman that bounced off Williams' fingers. But after wrestling with Lewis for the football, Redding dropped the ball.
Although officials initially awarded Redding the interception, the Buccaneers challenged the ruling, which was overturned after the replay booth decided Redding did not have control of the ball.
"You mean the interception strip by Ray? That's what happened," Redding said with a smile. "I had the ball. I kind of mumbled it, but I had it and I had it close to my chest. And then I felt – a black jersey, I knew it was one of my teammates – someone pull my arm, and the ball came out. I tried to catch it before it hit the ground, but it is what it is."
Offensive line shows cracks
Quarterback Joe Flacco compiled a passer rating of at least 100 for the fifth time in his last six games, but he did so under some duress.
Tampa Bay sacked Flacco four times, and three of those takedowns came from defensive linemen Gerald McCoy and Tim Crowder.
"We won, but we're always going to feel like we can get better," center Matt Birk said. "As offensive linemen, we're kind of chasing the impossible, chasing that perfect game, and no offensive lineman ever has. That's just what we do. If there are 75 plays, there could be 74 great ones and one bad one, and that one bad one is the one that you're going to remember."
Boldin disputes penalty
Running back Ray Rice's 76-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter was negated by an illegal block above the waist call on Anquan Boldin, and the wide receiver was not pleased.
Boldin was ruled to have hit safety Sabby Piscitelli in the back on the play, but Boldin argued otherwise.
"That was a bogus call," Boldin said. "There's no way you can explain to me that I was holding him."
Coach John Harbaugh agreed that the contact was slight, but he also emphasized that officials are monitoring those kinds of plays.