The offense was sharp, the defense was dominant, the coaching was on-point.
Yesterday’s 35-7 Ravens win was pretty doggone close to a perfect outcome. Close, but not quite.
The Ravens are calling the injury just a sprain, and X-rays of Smith’s ankle came back negative, which is obviously good news. But the promising rookie could be out of commission for a bit.
The training staff will take a close look at Smith’s ankle today, and they’ll be crossing their fingers that he didn’t suffer a high ankle sprain, which is more severe than that of the low variety.
Smith wasn’t the only corner to leave yesterday’s game with an injury; Chris Carr did not return after suffering a thigh injury. Carr battled a hamstring ailment nearly all preseason, and he doesn’t appear to be out of the woods in that area just yet.
With Smith and Carr going down, it’s a good thing Cary Williams and Lardarius Webb were so effective yesterday. They got great help from their defensive line - and both made sure to point that out multiple times during my postgame chats with them - but hung in against Pittsburgh’s speedy wide receivers, and didn’t allow anything to beat them deep.
While we’re on the topic of defensive backs, I want to go back and share some notes on safety Ed Reed, who grabbed two interceptions yesterday, giving him 56 picks in his career.
Reed now has recorded 12 dual-INT games in his career (13, including the playoffs), which is the most among active players. Not surprisingly, the Ravens are a perfect 12-0, (13-0 if you toss in that postseason game) in those contests.
The seven-time Pro Bowl safety didn’t have to work too hard for those two picks, as both were silly throws by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger which fluttered straight into Reed’s arms, but it’s incredible how the Ravens’ safety always finds himself in the right spot at the right time.
Reed led the NFL in interceptions last year with eight, despite the fact he only played in 10 games. Yesterday, he got out to an early lead as he tries to defend his INT title this season.
Oh, yeah, and that performance yesterday came on the day Reed turned 33. As Williams said after the game, “Hell of a birthday, wasn’t it?”
“He’s amazing,” Webb added. “He was my favorite player when I was in college, but man, he’s amazing. How you gonna get two interceptions ... and he’s about 41 years old! He turned 40 today and had two picks. One for every 20 years.
“But he’s great man. Every time I walk around the locker room, I see him with (an iPad) in his hand, looking at film. He’s always looking at film. I see hard work pays off and I’m still learning from him.”