The Baltimore Ravens are 5-1 and hold a 2 game lead in the AFC North, yet they may not be the favorites to win their own division any longer. They beat the Dallas Cowboys 31-29, in an ugly win, on Sunday; yet, they paid a very steep price. MRI’s confirmed yesterday that CB-Lardarius Webb, and LB-Ray Lewis will be lost for the season.
Webb tore his ACL in his left knee in the first quarter of Sunday’s game. He is unquestionably the best cover cornerback on the Ravens. His blitzing ability allowed the Ravens to put pressure on the opposing Quarterback and helped mask the loss of LB-Terrell Suggs through the first 6 games of the season. Webb, 27, tore the ACL in his right knee in 2009 as a rookie. He worked hard to reclaim his starting spot and established himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL last season. This past off-season, Webb, signed a 5 year, $53 million dollar contract. Second year cornerback, Jimmy Smith will start in place of Lardarius Webb this week against the Houston Texans.
The defense has not played well this season and Webb was one of the bright spots on a defense that is rated among the worst in the league. The loss of a young guy like Webb is extremely difficult to overcome, but the loss of Ray Lewis, 37, may be a bigger blow. Lewis has been the face of the Ravens franchise for 17 seasons. He was taken in the first round of the Baltimore Ravens’ first draft back in 1996, and he is the last of the ‘original Ravens’.
Lewis is the heart and soul of the team and he makes the guys around him better with his knowledge, experience, and preparation. He has not publicly commented since the injury occurred, and rumors and speculation have been swirling since Sunday about his possible retirement. I believe Ray Lewis will return next season. Lewis is a proud man, and I think he wants to retire on his own terms, not due to an injury.
The Ravens defense now needs to regroup, and quickly. This Sunday’s game is huge as the 5-1 Ravens visit the 5-1 Texans. The winner will own the best record in the AFC and will control the division tie-breakers that occur at playoff time. The Ravens need to dig deep and use everything in their ‘bag of tricks’ to win this game. The Ravens are battered and bruised and will get a much needed bye-week in week #8. They have overcame a lot in the past, but after losing Suggs, Lewis, Webb, and with Ngata now nursing a sprained MCL, it will take a team effort, like no other, to get them to the Super Bowl.