Grubbs returns, stabilizes Ravens' offensive line

PITTSBURGH - As I pack up my things and prepare to make the drive back to Owings Mills for John Harbaugh's afternoon press conference, I wanted to quickly pass along some notes on Ben Grubbs, who returned to action yesterday after missing the last six games with a toe injury.

While he's still not near 100 percent healthy, Grubbs gutted it out last night and made it through the full 60 minutes against the Steelers. Talking after the game as trainers wrapped up the injured big toe, Grubbs said he felt OK and didn't think he aggravated the injury during the Ravens' 23-20 win over Pittsburgh.

"It did all right," Grubbs said. "It was sore a little bit, but with the pain shots I took I was able to play.

"I don't think it's any worse, but the shots haven't worn off. Talk to me Wednesday."

The last six weeks have been rough on Grubbs, who has had to sit and watch his teammates practice and play without him. The five-year veteran had not missed a game in his NFL career prior to this season, so as you can imagine, sitting out six straight contests as people question if you'll ever return to the field hasn't been all that fun for the 6-foot-3, 310-lb. lineman.

"It was the first actual injury and first time I couldn't go even if I wanted to," Grubbs said. "I didn't know what the future held for me. I prayed and my family prayed. With the help of our trainers and the help of time, the No. 1 healer, I was able to give it a go this week. I really wasn't sure how I was going to make it through this game."

Don't look now, but the Ravens are 2-0 (with both wins coming against the Steelers) when Grubbs plays this season.

Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. No offense to Andre Gurode, who has played center the bulk of his career and had never lined up at left guard in the NFL prior to this year, but Grubbs is a far superior player at that spot.

His presence stabilized the left side of the line last night, and the Ravens' pass protection saw a significant upgrade over previous weeks. Yes, Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison had three sacks and quarterback Joe Flacco had to do some dancing around in the pocket to avoid pressure, but overall, Baltimore's offensive line did a nice job giving Flacco a fairly clean pocket to work with.

Watch the game-winning drive, in particular, and count the number of plays that Flacco had room to step up and deliver a throw down the field. That can't be overlooked.

"It's a lot of responsibility to put on one person," Grubbs said, when asked whether he deserves credit for the improved protection. "We got the win. I'm 2-0 right now, both against Pittsburgh. It's a great win.

"It was a collective effort. My teammates came through. No man was too small or too big. Everybody did their jobs."

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