Jimmy Smith becomes target for Rivers, Chargers' passing attack

Rookie corner struggles as he starts in place of Lardarius Webb, who played despite a toe injury

December 19, 2011|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

SAN DIEGO — — Jimmy Smith's third start of his NFL career was an uneasy one.

The Ravens rookie cornerback was tested early and often by the San Diego Chargers in Sunday night's contest at Snapdragon Stadium, which included surrendering a 28-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Malcom Floyd.

Confident as always, Smith appeared unshaken.

"I've been beat before," he said."It happens. It's football. I know what happened. It was double moves I got beat on."

Making the start for Lardarius Webb, Smith, the organization's first-round pick in April, was targeted three times by Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers on San Diego's first possession of the game. Rivers overthrew wide receiver Vincent Jackson on his first attempt, but connected on passes of 15 and 12 yards to Jackson and Floyd, respectively, against Smith.

On the Chargers' second series of the first half, Jackson faked out Smith and got behind both Smith and free safety Ed Reed, but Rivers' throw was too long for Jackson to grab. On their third drive, Rivers' pass to Floyd on a crossing route was broken up by Smith.

But on San Diego's opening drive of the third quarter, Rivers found a streaking Floyd, who got behind Smith to make the catch in the back right corner of the end zone with 10:38 left in the period.

"Do you know my record at Colorado?" Smith said after the game. "At the same time, you have to deal with it. They did a lot of things to me being a younger player. That's going to happen. I think they did that well."

Smith started in place of Webb, who is nursing a toe injury on his left foot. Webb had sat out all three practices last week, but was active against San Diego and entered the contest when the Chargers went to a three-receiver set.

Run defense falters

A unit that prides itself on stopping the run couldn't keep San Diego's running backs out of the end zone.

Ryan Mathews scored on rushes of one and three yards in the second and third quarters, respectively, and Mike Tolbert scored on a 2-yard plunge up the middle in the first quarter.

It was the first time the Ravens have surrendered three rushing touchdowns in a game since the Tennessee Titans scored three times on the ground in a 27-26 Ravens win on Nov. 12, 2006.

Tough season continues for Cundiff

A sore left calf isn't the only ailment plaguing kicker Billy Cundiff.

Adding insult to injury, Cundiff sent a 36-yard field-goal attempt wide right on the offense's opening drive of the contest against the Chargers.

Cundiff, who is 27-of-36 this season, has missed wide right eight times, and all nine misses have occurred on the road. The nine missed field goals are a career high for Cundiff, who made the Pro Bowl last season, in part on the strength of a 26-of-29 performance on field goals.

Tight ends produce for Ravens

The tight ends continued their recent run of production for the offense.

Dennis Pitta caught three passes for 25 yards and Ed Dickson registered the team's only touchdown of the first half, a 15-yard grab in the second quarter, and finished with three catches for 36 yards.

Pitta and Dickson have posted three of the team's six touchdown catches in the last four games.

Lewis active vs. Chargers

For the first time since Nov. 13, inside linebacker Ray Lewis was active for a Ravens game, and the 12-time Pro Bowler assumed his usual starting spot against the San Diego Chargers. He finished with 10 tackles.

Lewis had missed the team's last four games because of a turf toe injury on his right foot, but he did practice all three days last week — albeit on a limited basis — and was listed as questionable.

"I felt good," he said. "I take my hat off the organization because we made some real decisions the last couple of weeks if I should play or if I should not play. I came out totally healthy. I'm excited because when you sit back and watch our team, we get to go back home and we get to do some special things the next couple of weeks against two divisional foes. But me personally, I think I came out very healthy."

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (back), defensive end Cory Redding (ankle), left guard Ben Grubbs (toe) and cornerback Chris Carr (back) were also active.

End zone

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