Revamped offensive line steps up

Revamped offensive line steps up
October 14, 2012, 10:00 pm
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After yielding four sacks in each of their past two games, the Ravens shook up their offensive line on Sunday against Dallas, with Bobbie Williams making his first start at left guard and Ramon Harewood, the starter at that spot in the first five games, declared a game-day inactive.

The Ravens figured to have their hands full with a Cowboys pass rush led by linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who had 19 ½ sacks last season and has twice led the league in sacks.  The Ravens, though, kept the Cowboys rush at bay for much of the game, surrendering just one fourth-quarter sack in the Ravens’ 31-29 win. The sack, by Ware, came when he beat Oher inside and Williams had fallen down.

 “They’re a great defense. We were fighting tooth and nail, just trying to keep Joe clean and let him do what he does,” said center Matt Birk, who was playing his 200th NFL game.

“It’s tough to throw completions when you’re on your back,” Birk added. “Even Joe can’t do that.”

Flacco finished 17-for-26 for 234 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked once and hit three times, a notable improvement from the previous two games.

“They’re a good defense and they’ve got guys than can get to the passer,” Flacco said. “I think we did a good job all day of limiting that and getting the ball out of my hands. I think our receivers did a good job of beating the coverage pretty quickly so I didn’t have to hold on to it for too long.”

Harbaugh said the change at guard came mainly because Williams, the 13-year veteran, is finally getting healthy again. Williams, signed this offseason after playing for the Bengals for the past eight seasons, had been slowed while recovering from ankle surgery last winter.

“Basically Bobbie’s getting healthier, he’s starting to really come around, and has been practicing really well,” Harbaugh said after the Ravens’ win on Sunday.

“And Ramon had been playing well. That’s the thing I want to make sure everyone understands. It’s not that we’re down about Ramon. It’s nothing that Ramon did. … But we felt the experience (of Williams) was something that would benefit us.”

Williams, relegated to a role player until this week, said afterward there were no ill effects from his most extensive game action since last December.

”It was great to have him in there,” Birk said. “You never know how a season’s going to go, who’s going to be called upon, what’s going to happen week to week, but Bobbie did what I think everybody expected Bobbie to do, step in there today and play well.”

Added Williams: “It’s a machine. One part goes out, another part goes in, and the machine keeps rolling. And we try not to miss a beat, and that’s how you got to be 'cause it’s a long season.”