Game takes toll, with at least three Ravens injured

L. McClain, Oher, Landry left game early; Buccaneers Grimm carted off field

  • LeRon McClain grimaces after suffering a sprained ankle in the first half.
LeRon McClain grimaces after suffering a sprained ankle in… (AP photo )
November 28, 2010|By Ken Murray, The Baltimore Sun

As Le'Ron McClain trudged toward the locker room exit Sunday evening, the Ravens' Pro Bowl fullback wore a walking boot on his lower left leg and a grimace on his face.

"Got to play Sunday against Pittsburgh," he said through a forced smile.

McClain suffered a sprained left ankle -- perhaps the most serious Ravens injury in a 17-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- when he was rolled up while blocking on a kickoff return with about four minutes left in the first half. But he wasn't alone.

Left tackle Michael Oher had his right leg rolled up on a quarterback sneak on the first series of the second half. Two minutes later, safety Dawan Landry delivered a crushing hit and fell to the ground with a concussion. Neither player returned to the field.

It was a particularly dangerous game, judging from the list of walking wounded. The Bucs lost rookie safety Cody Grimm, who had to be carted off the field after getting hit by Anquan Boldin on an interception in the second quarter.

Ben Grubbs, the Ravens' left guard, said the threat of getting rolled into by another player comes with the territory.

"Being an offensive lineman, I can somewhat expect that," he said. "I got rolled up twice. You've just got to keep moving your feet."

The Ravens were forced to finish the game without a fullback. They inserted Oniel Cousins at left tackle for Oher and Haruki Nakamura at strong safety for Landry. Even cornerback Josh Wilson needed to come out on one series, and seldom-used Cary Williams replaced him. Former starting cornerback Fabian Washington was inactive and unavailable.

"I don't think we really got to the point where we were thinned," coach John Harbaugh said. "If we would have lost another guy on the offensive line, we would have been at the edge. That's what you'd hope for [to have capable replacements].

"You're built to have guys go in and play and play well. Cary Williams had to take some snaps for Josh at one point. I don't know what else we had. We also had to adjust for the fact we didn't have a fullback. We didn't have a regular personnel fullback, so the two tight ends took over."

How the Ravens line up Sunday night for the Steelers is another story. Landry said he expected to play, although he'll have to go through the requisite concussion tests this week before returning to practice. Oher, who has a sprained knee, was adopting a wait-and-see approach.

"I should be good," Oher said. "By tomorrow, we'll have to see."

Oher, a child of the age of instant social media, sent out a tweet in the fourth quarter that assured his fans he'll play against Pittsburgh. But to comply with NFL rules, he quickly removed the tweet, which read: "I'm good[.] people have to thank the man above for this one! Will be ready for pitt next week!"

Landry was hurt on what appeared to be a perfectly clean tackle. When the Bucs' Cadillac Williams bounced around his left end for an 11-yard gain, Landry cut him down at the Baltimore 44 with a crackling hit. But it was Landry who didn't get up.

"Dawan demolished him," Nakamura said. "It was perfectly legit" in that he didn't lead with his helmet.

Landry remembers everything except the moment of impact.

"I don't remember the hit, but I remember running to the play and falling to the ground," he said. "I was fine the whole time."

Landry said the Ravens' medical team kept him out of the game after that, but of Pittsburgh he said: "I'll be back. I'll be fine."

There were no such assurances for McClain, who is the AFC's leading vote-getter at fullback for the Pro Bowl. He was hurt blocking on David Reed's 30-yard kickoff return. The Bucs' Quincy Black was blocked into McClain's legs.

Did he fear the worst when he went down? "It felt like the worst," McClain said.

When he left the stadium, he carried a duffel bag filled with ice and had an electronic device attached to his left ankle to stimulate blood flow. He said the ankle was X-rayed and there was no break.

"I'm day-to-day," McClain said. "It's good I had my ankle taped up. I iced it the whole second half."

The strangest injury of the day, though, came less than two minutes after McClain was hurt. The Ravens answered a Tampa Bay field goal with one of Joe Flacco's two touchdown passes. On the next kickoff, the Bucs' Micheal Spurlock got outside for a 37-yard gain and then ran directly into kicker Billy Cundiff's legs.

Cundiff walked off the injury on the sideline and boomed his next kickoff deep into the end zone.

Spurlock "came at me," Cundiff said. "It was a stupid thing for a returner to come at me. I'm running sideways. You'd think he would try to go around me. It was like somebody punched me in the quad."

Cundiff hurt his left knee and the quadriceps on his right leg. But he said he won't show up on this week's injury report with the rest of the walking wounded.

"No, I'm not going there," he said, brightly.

ken.murray@baltsun.com

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