As they promised, Ravens stuff Hillis

Suggs downplays pre-game shouting match; Cox injury could be serious

December 26, 2010|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

CLEVELAND — — The Ravens voted for Peyton Hillis for the Pro Bowl, but they weren't going to be generous to the Cleveland Browns running back for the third time this season.

After surrendering 144 yards on 22 attempts and one touchdown to Hillis in the teams' first meeting on Sept. 26, the defense held Hillis to 35 yards on 12 carries in the Ravens' 20-10 victory at Cleveland Browns Stadium Sunday.

"He's a beast, but we wanted to go out and make our statement," outside linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "When anybody runs for 144 yards on us, we're going to take it personally, and we definitely had it out for him today. You can tell he was kind of nicked up, but he's still a great running back, and we've got a lot of respect for the guy."

Earlier last week, both inside linebacker Ray Lewis and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata vowed to prevent Hillis from posting another eye-opening performance. Those statements set the standard for the defense.

"We backed up what Ray said," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "Ray, he had him doubting. The first one, he snuck up on us. Like I said, I didn't even know his name at first, but he made sure we knew it at the end of the game. But we can't take anything away from him. A 1,000-yard rusher is a 1,000-yard rusher, and to be totally honest with you, yes, we did vote for him in the Pro Bowl. I think he's one hell of a back, but we did our job today. We knew we were planning for something bigger than just not letting him get 100 yards."

Ngata said the key was filling the running lanes that had opened in the first meeting and making sure that Hillis was tackled when the opportunity presented itself.

"Peyton Hills is a great running back, and he showed it all year," Ngata said. "We wanted to make sure that we got a bunch of hats on him. I think we did a good job of crowding him and getting to the ball and tackling him when we got a chance."

Cox, Gooden, Pitta among injury concerns

The Ravens' victory did not come without a price.

Morgan Cox's left knee was wrapped and taped, and the rookie long snapper used crutches to navigate the visiting locker room at Cleveland Browns Stadium. While coach John Harbaugh said he feared that the injury could be of the season-ending variety, Cox tried to remain optimistic.

"The doctors will tell me tomorrow," said Cox, who injured his knee while blocking on Billy Cundiff's 27-yard field goal with 13:35 left in the second quarter but continued to play. "We're going to do an MRI, but it hurt. It hurt a lot. We braced it up, and I got through the snapping part of it."

In addition to Cox, the Ravens are concerned about linebacker Tavares Gooden and rookie tight end Dennis Pitta.

Gooden dislocated the same left shoulder that he dislocated in the team's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 19. The shoulder was popped back into place and Gooden continued to play, but he sat out five games after the initial injury.

Pitta suffered his second concussion of the season, getting injured on the opening kickoff. Pitta missed games against the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 7 and the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 11 after sustaining his first concussion, and the NFL's increased scrutiny of head injuries could mean an extended layoff for Pitta.

Wide receiver Derrick Mason re-tweaked the ankle that has been bothering him the last two weeks, but it is not believed to be serious enough to prevent him from playing next Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Carr makes amends

Chris Carr turned a gaffe into a gift.

The cornerback got turned around by Browns wide receiver Brian Robiskie, who hauled in a 29-yard pass from wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi to give Cleveland a 7-0 lead with 7:01 left in the first quarter.

But on the first play of Cleveland's next possession, Carr stripped Massaquoi of the football after a catch, and linebacker Jameel McClain returned the fumble nine yards. That set up a Joe Flacco 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh that gave the Ravens a 10-7 lead with 11:47 left in the second quarter.

"I read it the entire way, and I just kind of misjudged the ball," said Carr, who did not practice Friday because of an illness and was considered questionable. "I was like, 'Hey, have confidence, go out there, and do your job and try to make a play.' It's always about the next play. It doesn't matter if you have a good play or a bad play. So it felt good to go out there and make a play and kind of get that back."

Heap plays it safe

Despite promising signs that Todd Heap might be available Sunday, the Ravens starting tight end sat out his third consecutive game.

Heap has not played since Dec. 5 against the Pittsburgh Steelers when he pulled his right hamstring on the first play of the game. Heap had been limited in practice for three straight days, but both he and Harbaugh had emphasized being patient and careful with his hamstring.

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