Ravens secondary has up-and-down game

Ravens secondary has up-and-down game
October 6, 2013, 6:00 pm
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Clifton Brown: Ravens "finally able to get that running game going."

Aided by a fierce pass rush, the Ravens secondary could have had a big day. What it had, however, was an inconsistent performance in Sunday’s 26-23 victory over the Dolphins.

In the first half, Miami wide receiver Mike Wallace, the former Steeler, was lighting up the Ravens. He caught six passes for 99 yards. In particular, cornerback Lardarius Webb seemed to be having trouble staying with Wallace. Webb had hurt his thigh in last week’s loss to the Bills and was listed as questionable coming into Sunday.

However, in the second half, Wallace was held to one catch for 6 yards (though one long reception was overturned on a replay because he couldn’t quite get both feet down in bounds). Webb bounced back with strong play, knocking away passes from Ryan Tannehill.

What was unusual wasn’t just that Webb appeared to be struggling for a half. It was also that Miami was challenging him that much at all. Ravens opponents will often stay away from his side of the field. Maybe Webb was still feeling the effects of his thigh issue.

Safety James Ihedigbo made what could have been a game-turning error with time running out in the fourth quarter.

On fourth-and-10 from Miami’s 20, Ihedigbo let Brandon Gibson get behind him, allowing Tannehill to connect with the receiver after scrambling away from the Ravens’ pressure. The resulting 46-yard play set up the Dolphins at the Ravens’ 34 with 1:01 remaining. That put Miami in position for a possibly game-tying, 52-yard field goal by impressive rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis. But a combination of Elvis Dumervil’s pass rush and Tannehill’s inability to get rid of the ball bailed out the Ravens and Ihedigbo. A 5-yard sack pushed Sturgis’ kick back to a 57-yarder, which he hit wide left.

Ihedigbo, who had been having a strong season so far, also was left chasing after tight end Charles Clay on a 45-yard reception earlier in the second half. In the first half, Clay left cornerback Jimmy Smith covering a patch of turf on a back-shoulder catch for a touchdown.

Tannehill finished with 307 yards passing, and Wallace, Gibson, Brian Hartline and Charles Clay had their moments. But they also had plenty of drops, so it could have been much worse for the Ravens.

This would be one game when the Baltimore secondary should be especially grateful for the work of Terrell Suggs and Co. up front.

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