Late taunt­ing call proves crit­i­cal

For sec­ond year in a row, spe­cial teams come up big

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS INSIDER - By Jeff Zre­biec jeff.zre­biec@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/jef­fzre­biec­sun

CLEVE­LAND — Ravens safety Lar­dar­ius Webb was just mad that he al­lowed the com­ple­tion. He wasn’t even think­ing about the foot­ball that bounced off his shoul­der.

But what seemed to be a harm­less flip by wide re­ceiver Ter­relle Pryor af­ter his re­cep­tion late in the game wound up con­tribut­ing to the Ravens’ hold­ing on for a 25-20 vic­tory over the Cleve­land Browns at FirstEn­ergy Sta­dium.

Try­ing to lead his team into the end zone for the go-ahead touch­down, Browns quar­ter­back Josh McCown hit Pryor on the far side­line for a 20-yard gain that should have put the ball at the Ravens 10-yard line with 20 sec­onds to play.

But there were two flags thrown on the play. One was a de­fen­sive-hold­ing call on Webb, and the other was a taunt­ing call on Pryor.

With the off­set­ting penal­ties, the ball moved back to the 30. McCown’s pass was in­ter­cepted by in­side line­backer C.J. Mosley on the next play.

“The ball did hit me,” said Webb, who ac­knowl­edged that he wasn’t sure what hap­pened on the play or what Pryor said af­ter­ward be­cause he was fo­cused on get­ting a de­fen­sive stop. “I guess that’s what made him call it. It’s prob­a­bly what he said, and then the ball hit me. They are real tough on those things now. Good call. That’s what I’m go­ing to say.”

The league has been crack­ing down on play­ers’ throw­ing the ball in the di­rec­tion of op­po­nents af­ter plays. But in this case, it ap­peared Pryor was just try­ing to flip the ball to one of the side of­fi­cials.

“There’s other peo­ple that can catch a ball and spin it and look at play­ers in the face,” Pryor told The (Cleve­land) Plain Dealer af­ter the game. “But if I get up and drop the ball, clearly I wasn’t try­ing to drop it on no­body. But I’ll let [coach Hue Jack­son] han­dle that.”

Jack­son said he hadn’t seen a re­play, but the Browns “have to do a bet­ter job of mak­ing sure that we get the ball to the of­fi­cial and go from there.” Another block: On their pre­vi­ous trip to Cleve­land last Novem­ber, the Ravens won, 33-27, when safety Will Hill re­turned a field-goal try blocked by Brent Ur­ban for a game-win­ning 64-yard touch­down with no time on the clock. The Ravens’ lat­est block Sun­day was hardly as dra­matic, but it played its part in help­ing the vis­i­tors come The Ravens’ Lar­dar­ius Webb, left, and the Browns’ Ter­relle Pryor tan­gle up on the last­minute play that led to a taunt­ing penalty on Pryor, mov­ing the ball back to the Ravens 30. back from a 20-0 deficit.

Af­ter Corey Cole­man’s 11-yard touch­down re­cep­tion had given the Browns a 20-0 lead, de­fen­sive end Lawrence Guy blocked Pa­trick Mur­ray’s ex­tra-point try. Rookie cor­ner­back Tavon Young scooped it up and sprinted 63 yards to give the Ravens two points.

“This is what [spe­cial teams co­or­di­na­tor Jerry Ros­burg] tells us: ‘When we line up on that field-goal block, our main goal is to block that kick ev­ery sin­gle time,’ ” Guy said. “I’m go­ing to give it all I can to block it.”

Since 2014, the Ravens have blocked an NFL-high nine kicks. In Brooks’ honor: The Browns held a mo­ment of si­lence be­fore the game in honor of for­mer Ravens de­fen­sive line coach Clarence Brooks, who died Thurs­day af­ter bat­tling esophageal and stom­ach can­cer. Af­ter the game, Ravens coach John Har­baugh ded­i­cated the vic­tory to Brooks.

“Last night in our team meet­ing when we talked about C.B., we had to talk about [late cor­ner­back] Tray Walker as well,” Har­baugh said. “We’re kind of like a fam­ily, we’re to­gether ev­ery day, and th­ese things im­pact all of us.”

Ravens nose tackle Bran­don Wil­liams said he was in tears be­fore the game, think­ing about what Brooks has meant to him and his ca­reer. Not Wright’s day: Ravens vet­eran cor­ner­back Sha­reece Wright re­ceived a game ball af­ter his 11-tackle per­for­mance last week against the Bills. But he strug­gled against the Browns, who tar­geted him early and of­ten.

Wright missed a key tackle on An­drew Hawkins that pro­longed Cleve­land’s first drive. The drive ended with his get­ting beat by Cole­man in the back of the end zone for a 31-yard touch­down.

On the fi­nal play of the third quar­ter, Wright had a po­ten­tial in­ter­cep­tion wres­tled away from him by Cole­man, who made the 47-yard catch. How­ever, the Ravens de­fense stiff­ened, and Mur­ray missed the 52-yard field-goal try to end the drive.

“Short-term mem­ory, man. You’ve got to un­der­stand that this is the NFL. It doesn’t al­ways go your way,” Wright said. “It’s just how you re­spond when you do give up a touch­down, when you do give up a big play. I’ve been through worse things in my life. Know­ing that, I just keep fight­ing. It’s a long game and it’s part of the game.” End zone: Ka­mar Aiken, the team’s lead­ing re­ceiver last year, was held with­out a catch on just one tar­get. … With three catches for 64 yards, wide re­ceiver Steve Smith Sr. sur­passed 14,000 re­ceiv­ing yards for his ca­reer. He’s only the 11th player in league his­tory to do so. Smith also moved past James Lofton and into 10th place in all-time re­ceiv­ing yards … Af­ter a slug­gish per­for­mance in Week 1, re­turn spe­cial­ist Devin Hester gave the Ravens a nice boost, gain­ing 80 yards on two kick­off re­turns and 22 yards on two punt re­turns. … The Ravens’ 20-2 first-quar­ter deficit was their sec­ond largest in fran­chise his­tory. … The Ravens had the same seven in­ac­tive play­ers they did for their sea­son-open­ing vic­tory over the Bills: run­ning backs Ken­neth Dixon and Buck Allen, of­fen­sive line­man John Urschel, out­side line­backer Elvis Dumervil, de­fen­sive tackle Wil­lie Henry, and cor­ner­backs Will Davis and Jer­raud Pow­ers. Out­side line­backer Za’Dar­ius Smith played de­spite not hav­ing prac­ticed all week with an an­kle in­jury, and fin­ished with two tack­les.

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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