Stanley struggles in return after 4-game absence
Fourth blocked kick came after observation by Allen
There won’t be much for Ronnie Stanley to remember about his return from a four-game absence.
The Ravens rookie left tackle struggled in his first game in more than a month. He committed a game-high four penalties in Sunday’s 21-14 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers and allowed outside linebacker James Harrison to sack quarterback Joe Flacco twice in the second half.
“It was fight out there, and we got the win, and that’s what really matters,” Stanley said. “But yeah, I know I can play better.”
The sixth overall pick of the 2016 NFL draft had not played since a19-17 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 25 because of a foot injury. The team lost all four games Stanley missed, and his return, as well as right guard Marshal Yanda’s from a shoulder injury, suggested that the offensive line would be able to open running lanes for running back Terrance West (Towson University, Northwestern High) and keep Flacco upright. That didn’t quite happen. Stanley’s troubles began in the first quarter, when he was flagged for illegal use of the hands while trying to prevent inside linebacker Ryan Shazier from pressuring Flacco. In the second quarter, he was caught for holding twice.
In the third quarter, Stanley was cited for holding for the third time on the offense’s first play. Then Harrison beat Stanley to sack Flacco, although that was as much on Flacco for holding onto the ball too long. Later in the quarter, Harrison ran wide past Stanley and stripped Flacco of the ball as he reared back. Yanda recovered the fumble to prevent further damage.
Coach John Harbaugh chalked up Stanley’s mistakes to his recent inactivity.
“He hasn’t played for a long time, and he’s a rookie,” Harbaugh said. “And he’s going against good players. His footwork is really important, and his footwork wasn’t right like it needed to be, and it got him in some awkward positions, and he grabbed people. I’ll have to see the tape to see if it was a smart thing to do or not. But he’s capable of playing much better with his feet.” Block party continues: The Ravens’ fourth blocked kick of the season and 12th Left tackle Ronnie Stanley committed a game-high four penalties in his return to the line after four games. since 2014 — both of which are NFL highs — was made possible because of an observation by Buck Allen.
Allen, who was on the left edge of the punt block team, noticed that the Steelers’ Sean Davis (Maryland) did not put up much of a fight blocking and was instead intent on running downfield. After informing special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg, Allen raced past Davis and blocked Jordan Perry’s 10th punt of the game early in the fourth quarter.
Chris Moore scooped up the ball and returned it 14 yards to give the Ravens a 19-0 advantage.
“I just knew that if I got past the slot [guy], I was going to block the ball,” Allen said. “I didn’t care if I hit or touched the ball. It was just a great call. Coach Jerry made a great call at the right moment, and I just executed.”
Harbaugh singled out Allen for his commitment to special teams despite sliding down to fourth on the running back depth chart. “He’s had to work really hard to become a special teams player,” Harbaugh said. “To see him have that kind of impact on the game in special teams speaks volumes for who he is and for how important it is to commit yourself to whatever way you can contribute to the football team.” Smith plays and talks: Midway through the first quarter, Steve Smith Sr. took a short pass from Flacco and turned it into a 30-yard gain. Although the 37-year-old wide receiver finished with just four catches for 47 yards and took a back seat to teammate Mike Wallace’s 124-yard, one-touchdown showing, he ranks second on the offense in yards (357) and third in receptions (31) and proved that he still can make an impact.
“Somebody said something that if our offense relies on a 37-year old, then we’re in trouble,” said Smith, who sat out two games because of an ankle injury. “I guess the difference is, I’m not your average 37-year old.”
Smith, who said he knew he would play on Wednesday, demonstrated he can still trash-talk, too.
Late in the game, he jawed at Steelers rookie cornerback Artie Burns and then safety Mike Mitchell, who is on Smith’s “lifetime hit list” for celebrating Smith getting speared in the back by Lawrence Timmons on Oct. 1, 2015.
“He ain’t on my level,” Smith said of Mitchell. “He never will be. He is not even on the same level as my kids.”
Mitchell feigned ignorance when asked about the verbal altercation. “I’m not quite sure,” he said. “I don’t remember any of that.” Flacco thankful: While capping off a 14-yard run for a first down on the offense’s first series of the third quarter, Flacco slid awkwardly. When he stood up, a brace protecting his surgically repaired left knee from last season was mangled, and Flacco hopped on his right leg to the sideline and the tunnel leading to the locker room for a new brace.
Afterward, Flacco was grateful that the brace appeared to do its job, saying, “I could have done something to my MCL. Just chalk it up as lucky that it was just my brace, and that’s it.”
Ryan Mallett filled in for Flacco, handing the ball off twice to West and completing a 9-yard pass to tight end Darren Waller. But Flacco returned to finish 18-of-30 for 241 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
He couldn’t escape some teasing from his teammates.
“That was the worst slide known to mankind,” Smith said.
“A few guys thought — I’m not going to say who — that it wasn’t the knee brace that bent, but that it was his leg. But Joe is smooth.” End zone: The Ravens are planning today to re-sign wide receiver-kick returner Michael Campanaro, who was waived from the team with an injury settlement on Sept. 13 because of a quadriceps problem. The former River Hill standout rehabbed the injury and feels ready to contribute to the Ravens, who could use the wide receiver’s route-running ability and his sure hands on offense and in the return game. A seventh-round pick by the Ravens in 2014, Campanaro has 12 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown and two rushes for 17 yards and a score while playing eight games for the Ravens in parts of two injury-plagued seasons. … Rookie running back Kenneth Dixon suffered a chest contusion after a 1-yard gain in the fourth quarter and did not return to the game. Dixon, who finished with nine carries for 13 yards and two catches for zero yards, sat out the first four games of the season to heal a strained MCL in his left knee sustained in the team’s third game of the preseason Aug. 27. … With a 14-yard punt return in the first quarter, Devin Hester Sr. passed Darrien Gordon for third place for the most punt-return yards in NFL history. Hester has 3,604 yards. …The Ravens activated strong safety Matt Elam and cornerback Chris LewisHarris. The 25-year-old Elam, who underwent knee surgery in late August, was elevated from injured reserve Saturday. It was his first game since an AFC divisional playoff loss to the New England Patriots on Jan. 10, 2015. Lewis-Harris, 27, was claimed by the team off waivers after he was released by the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday after spending parts of five seasons there. … The team deactivated outside linebackers Elvis Dumervil (foot) and rookie Kamalei Correa (thigh), guards Ryan Jensen and Vladimir Ducasse, tight end Crockett Gillmore (thigh), rookie defensive tackle Willie Henry, and cornerback Shareece Wright (pulled hamstring). … Defensive end Lawrence Guy, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, Wallace, and Yanda represented the Ravens for the pre-game coin toss.