Fans at M&T Bank Stadium watched helplessly Sunday afternoon as purple jersey after purple jersey fell to the ground clutching a body part.
The injury list included big names like Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata and Lardarius Webb. Although Baltimore is 5-1 after six weeks, the next few weeks will be precarious for the Ravens as they attempt to clinch a playoff berth in spite of their banged-up defense.
Here, we break down the impact of the Ravens' season-threatening injuries moving forward.
By far the most deflating news came on Monday morning when NFL insider Jason La Canfora reported that Baltimore's star cornerback Lardarius Webb did indeed suffer a torn ACL when he banged knees with Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant in the first quarter of the Ravens' 31-29 win:
Tests have confirmed what the Ravens feared—it is indeed a season-ending torn ACL for CB Lardarius Webb. Was having an All Pro year— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 15, 2012
Since the start of 2010, Webb has defended 35 passes, made eight interceptions and forced two fumbles for Baltimore. John Harbaugh's squad will certainly miss Webb's presence on the outside as it enters the stretch run.
Webb defended five passes and recorded three interceptions in two playoff games for the Ravens last winter. There is simply no replacing a talent like that at such a key position. Often underrated, Webb is among the elite cover corners in the NFL.
Second-year corner Jimmy Smith and fellow defensive back Cary Williams will have to step up and play the best football of their young careers this fall. Otherwise, Baltimore will become even more susceptible to big plays in the passing game.
Fans had to know that something was seriously wrong with middle linebacker Ray Lewis on Sunday when he was sidelined down the stretch after injuring his right triceps. Lewis would never be content to sit out a fourth quarter drive unless his arm was going to fall off.
According to ESPN's Ed Werder, Lewis will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of his injury. At age 37 though, a season-ending injury could signal the end of one of the greatest careers in football.
According to NFL insider Jason La Canfora via Twitter, there is concern that Lewis' injury may in fact be serious:
Ravens will have to do more testing to determine extent of Ray Lewis triceps injury. Some concern it could be a tear.— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 14, 2012
Still, there's certainly hope for Baltimore if Lewis is only lost for a few games. The Ravens went 4-0 without Lewis a season ago while he was recovering from a foot injury.
Linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain will have to step up their game and become leaders in the middle of Baltimore's defense. Although that's a lot easier said than done, both players have the talent and experience to make it happen.
Ravens stud defensive lineman Haloti Ngata sprained his knee on Sunday and is awaiting the results of an MRI to determine the severity, though it is not expected to be season-ending according to NFL insider Jason La Canfora via Twitter:
Looks like an MCL sprain for Ravens DT Haloti Ngata. MRI coming Mon. Not believed to be long-term but team will know more after the test— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 14, 2012
With Terrell Suggs sidelined thus far in 2012, Ngata is Baltimore's sack leader with three. He also has 30 tackles this season for the Ravens.
Assuming that Ngata's MCL injury is not all that serious and that he can return to dominant form in a few weeks, the Ravens shouldn't fall too much more than they already have up front. Even with Ngata in the lineup the Ravens rank 26th in the NFL defending the run. It's hard for them to get any worse in that department, and for that reason the Ngata injury shouldn't be too concerning.
Either way, defensive coordinator Dean Pees has his work cut out for him this fall.
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