Special teams gave a jolt to a lifeless Cardinals team in the second quarter on Monday night. It also brought the Ravens back from the dead down the stretch.
It was a mixed bag for the unit in the 26-18 win, as Justin Bethel’s forced fumble kick-started a dominant stretch, but a late blocked punt by Baltimore put the outcome in doubt until the waning seconds.
The Cardinals seemed to be cruising to the win when
“They ran a double twist in the A-gap, and I had two guys,” safety
The ball squirted down to the 1, where the Ravens took over and scored one play later. If kicker
The ending helped mask how important the play by Bethel was late in the first half. The Cardinals trailed 10-7 and had just gone three-and-out. The Ravens waited to take over following their most successful drive of the night, an eight-play, 84-yard march that was punctuated by a 14-yard touchdown run by Justin Forsett.
They never gained possession, as Bethel brought down returner Jeremy Ross and ripped the ball loose from him before his knee hit the ground. The ball never hit the grass, as Bethel kept it in his arms as he went down.
The Cardinals took over at the 12 and scored a touchdown on the drive to go ahead 14-10.
“I dove for the tackle, and when I landed on him, I felt it,” Bethel said. “I rolled this way and I felt the ball coming out. So I just finished rolling and it came straight into my hands. I think it was definitely a big play for us. It was something we needed.”
FREENEY GETS HIS FIRST SACK
After a quiet debut in Pittsburgh, linebacker
He not only played in obvious pass-rushing situations, but also saw the field on second and first down.
“That was great,” Freeney said. “It felt like I was back in 2008, 2005 when I used to do that stuff. I just love doing that. I’m a football player, not just a pass-rush guy, and they realize that here. They’ve done a great job of keeping everybody fresh, kind of like a hockey team.”
Freeney registered his sack by using a spin move on Ravens tackle Eugene Monroe, who he said was overplaying him to the outside. Freeney said there was no concern as to whether his spin move would still be effective at age 35.
“I know I still got it, but it’s about how sharp it is,” Freeney said. “Sometimes it’s slow, like a tropical storm. This one was like a tornado. I’ve got to get that thing humming. It was pretty good today. A category 2 -- 75-to-80 miles per hour.”
JERRAUD POWERS MISSES SECOND HALF WITH INJURY
Powers’ absence pressed Bethel into action as the outside cornerback opposite
“There was one play I wish I could take back, but other than that I was prepared for it,” Bethel said.
If Powers is out for a significant stretch, it will leave the Cardinals thin at cornerback. Bethel was the only backup for much of the year until undrafted rookie free agent
GRESHAM STEPS IN AND STEPS UP
“I’m just trying to find my niche in this offense, being in the right place at the right time,” Gresham said. “Carson (Palmer) is going to go through his progressions and make his reads, so just be there.”