Ravens' defense exploits Maddox

Ravens' defense exploits Maddox

BALTIMORE -- As an aggressive Baltimore Ravens' defense exploited struggling Pittsburgh Steelers substitute quarterback Tommy Maddox, linebacker Terrell Suggs celebrated by imitating the dance moves of defensive elders Ray Lewis and Deion Sanders. Suggs returned a Maddox interception to the Steelers' 1-yard-line and attempted a high-stepping rendition of Sanders' usual celebration, but it was called back due to a penalty.

"I asked Deion, ‘Can I do your dance if I make something happen?'" Suggs said. "I did it. Flag on the field. It was heartbreaking. Deion told me to get another one."

In the Ravens' 16-13 overtime win Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, Suggs intercepted another Maddox pass with a minute left in regulation after receiver Hines Ward inadvertently kicked the football high into the air.

Suggs immediately performed an abbreviated rendition of Lewis' trademark dance. This time, his tumbling catch was upheld by instant replay.

"I wasn't even supposed to be dropping, you all keep that secret," Suggs said. "I just happened to be in the right place in the right time.

"Ray gave me the OK to dance as long as I didn't destroy it too much. I haven't been dancing a lot, but we have the whole second half of the season left."

Behind elaborate blitz packages that produced six sacks, it was an impressive performance by the defense. Baltimore (3-7) took advantage of starter Ben Roethlisberger's absence and limited an inaccurate Maddox to 230 yards and one touchdown on 19 of 36 passing.

The Ravens also shut down the Steelers' powerful running attack, limiting Pittsburgh to 70 rushing yards on 25 carries.

"We knew if we could stop those guys and put the game in the hands of Tommy Maddox, we wanted to take our chances with that," said linebacker Bart Scott, who had nine tackles, two sacks and one fumble recovery. "We just tried to bring the heat and make him make quick decisions.

"He was coming off a tough game and we didn't want to let him build any confidence. We did certain things to take advantage of what he doesn't do well and tried to exploit them."
Between Scott, Suggs and defensive end Tony Weaver's two sacks in overtime, it was easily the Ravens' top defensive showing of the season.

"I was up late last night, praying to the sack gods," Weaver said. "It was huge, and it was so great to feel like I was out there contributing."

SHARING TIME: The Ravens rotated running backs Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor liberally with Taylor carrying it a season-high 19 times for 59 yards.

Lewis was limited to 28 yards on 13 carries. Taylor was cheered whenever he entered the game and Lewis was booed when he headed into the huddle.

"No, I'm not hurt," said Lewis, who lost a fumble that set up a field goal. "I've been through much worse, trust me. That's really nothing. That doesn't do anything to my confidence level.

"I know the type of running back I am and I know what I can do. I don't let nobody control that but me."

Taylor returned three kickoffs for 101 yards and caught four passes for 26 yards, giving him 186 all-purpose yards. His 14-yard run to the Steelers' 1 set up a touchdown.

Taylor was held out on offense last week after missing practice for personal reasons.

"It means a lot to me because I was out last week and I couldn't help the team and it was hurting me," Taylor said. "I just tried to do all I can, whatever I had to do."

BIG SAFETY: At 6-foot-2, 270 pounds, Adalius Thomas is fairly big for a linebacker. He's way oversized for the prototypical safety, but lined up there a few times without incident.

"The coaches have confidence in me that I know the defense," Thomas said. "I know where to be."

NEW-LOOK LINE: The Ravens started Tony Pashos at right tackle and Brian Rimpf at right guard, replacing Orlando Brown and Keydrick Vincent due to injuries.

Pashos struggled at times as quarterback Kyle Boller was sacked five times while Rimpf was generally solid in his starting debut.

"It's our first time in there together and we're professionals and we've got to be prepared," Pashos said. "I think we did a good job."

TRAINING ROOM: Cornerback Samari Rolle suffered a concussion and didn't return.

INACTIVES: The Ravens deactivated Ray Lewis (thigh), safety Ed Reed (ankle), Brown (back), running back Musa Smith (leg), cornerback Zach Norton, Vincent (thigh) and wide receivers Devard Darling and Clarence Moore.

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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