For Graham, Ihedigbo, first Ravens-Steelers game is a hit

For Graham, Ihedigbo, first Ravens-Steelers game is a hit
November 19, 2012, 12:45 am
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Harbaugh: "It was a great team win"

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Corey Graham (24) returns an interception against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half of the game at Heinz Field. The Ravens won the game, 13-10.

(Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE)

Corey Graham and James Ihedigbo have plenty of NFL games to their credit, but neither of them had ever played in a Ravens-Steelers game before. Both thrived in the atmosphere and made critical plays that helped carry the Ravens to a bruising, 13-10 win at raucuous Heinz Field on Sunday night.

Graham, a free agent acquisition in the offseason seen primarily as a special teams ace, was making his first start at cornerback for the Ravens in place of injured Jimmy Smith. He had several huge plays, including a leaping interception deep in Ravens territory in the third quarter and a bone-crunching hit on Steelers tight end Heath Miller on the Steelers’ final drive.

Ravens-Steelers, Graham said, “lived up to all expectations. They talked about how it was going to be a physical game, how it was going to come down to the end, and it all lived up to it.”

Graham finished with eight tackles, the interception and three passes defensed.

On his big play in the final drive of the game, when the 6-foot, 196-pound Graham hammered the 6-5, 256-pound Miller and dislodged the ball, Graham said, “You just try to go out there and make plays. I was fortunate. He didn’t see me coming, and instead of going for the ball, I just went for the hit.”

Ihedigbo also left his mark on the Steelers, and specifically Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich. Ihedigbo came untouched on a safety blitz in the fourth quarter and hammered Leftwich, who got up slowly but continued in the game.

“It was outside zone pressure, and it just opened up. …We just executed great on defense, and the window opened up and I went for the kill.”

Ihedigbo, who also had a special teams tackle, has played in intense games at Heinz Field before as a member of the Patriots, but like Graham, he said the game lived up to all the Ravens-Steelers hype.

“It was all that and more,” he said.  

“It was a fistfight. We went in with the mentality as a team that we’re going into a fistfight,” Ihedigbo said. “nd that’s how we played. We played physical from the beginning of the game til the end of the game. We knew it was going to come down to us making a play on defense. Corey Graham did, he made a big interception going down to our end there and we just played great, sound defense throughout the game.”


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