Ravens rest Haloti Ngata ahead of tough stretch of games

November 11, 2012|By Aaron Wilson, The Baltimore Sun

Dealing with a sprained right knee and right shoulder injury, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata didn't play a single snap during the Ravens' 55-20 win Sunday over the Oakland Raiders.

Ngata was active, but missed his first game this season as he was rested ahead of key upcoming games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Diego Chargers.

"We were hoping that we wouldn't have to play him," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "It turned out that we didn't have to play him."

Ngata was limited to two tackles over the previous two games, including no tackles against the Cleveland Browns.

"I feel awesome," Ngata said on Sunday. "It was more precautionary. I could have played."

Rookie defensive tackle DeAngelo Tyson, a seventh-round draft pick from Georgia, started his first NFL game and recorded two pass deflections and one quarterback hit.

Now, the Ravens are hoping Ngata will be refreshed for next week's road AFC North showdown against the Steelers.

"It really helps to get him some rest," middle linebacker Jameel McClain said. "We all know that he's a force in this league, and he'll be back at 100 percent."

Meanwhile, starting cornerback Jimmy Smith was held out due to a groin injury.

Corey Graham started in his place, and Chykie Brown lined up in the nickel package.

Smith has been dealing with the injury for weeks, but the team was concerned with how he looked before kickoff.

"Jimmy was having a tough time getting warmed up," Harbaugh said. "It just did not work for him with the tightness in his groin that he's been experiencing. We're going to have to take a hard look at that Monday and just see where he's at.

"This is the first time it has gotten to the point where he just couldn't get loose enough to play. We tried him again at halftime and he was unable to get loose enough."

Trick play works

Punter Sam Koch bolted into the end zone untouched on a fake field goal in the third quarter, scoring his first NFL touchdown on a 7 -yard run.

The touchdown was his first since his senior year of high school growing up in Nebraska. Last year, Koch scored a two-point conversion on a fake extra point run against Pittsburgh.

The Ravens practiced the play all week after noticing that the Raiders' field goal block team overloaded to the right with eight players.

"They gave us the look that we wanted, it opened up and the guys up front did a great job blocking," Koch said. "They definitely helped with the backside, and the three guys on the left side."

The score boosted the Ravens' lead to 48-17, which seemed like piling on to Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly.

"When you're up thirty-something in the third quarter, would you fake a field goal?" Kelly said. "Even if you do run it, we've got to stop it."

Koch didn't care if the Raiders were upset, enjoying the moment.

"Oh, not that I know of," Koch said when asked if the Raiders reacted angrily. "I was too busy doing high-fives and spiking the ball."

Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice gave the punter high marks for his running style.

"It was better than mine," said Rice, who scored on a 7-yard touchdown run earlier. "He set up his blocks. I'm going to have to take a few lessons out of his book."

J. Jones sets return record

For the second time this season, kick returner Jacoby Jones dashed into the record books.

After tying the NFL record for longest kickoff return with a 108-yard return against the Cowboys, Jones scooted 105 yards on a kickoff in the fourth quarter Sunday.

Jones is the first Raven to have more than one kickoff return for a touchdown in the same season. He's the only player in NFL history to have two kickoff returns of at least 105 yards and the ninth to ever have two kickoff returns of 100 yards or more.

"They brought me in to play my role, and I'm going to do whatever I have to do to succeed," said Jones, who's averaging 38.6 yards per kickoff return after being signed to a two-year, $7 million contract in the spring. "Every time they call my name, I'm going to try to make a play."

Jones still had enough energy in the end zone to celebrate with a dance.

"That's old-school, man," Jones said. "It's called 'Cabbage Patch.'"

Reid replaces Williams

Due to veteran left guard Bobbie Williams' gimpy left ankle and wanting to build depth, Jah Reid replaced Williams in the second quarter for the rest of the game.

Williams only practiced once last week and was listed as questionable.

"What Jah needs is playing time," Harbaugh said. "He needs experience. It was our plan to start him out there in the third series no matter what and then play him as much as we could. He played well."

A 2011 third-round draft pick, Reid was inactive for the first seven games due to a strained right calf.

Reid threw a solid block on Rice's 7-yard touchdown run.

"It was awesome to be a part of it," Reid said. "Of course, I had some growing pains. I've got to learn from my mistakes. I definitely need a lot of improvement.

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