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Once No. 4 CB, Corey Graham Huge As Starter

Posted Nov 19, 2012

The six-year veteran had an interception and a pair of critical pass breakups vs. Pittsburgh.


Corey Graham finally got the opportunity he’d wanted for years.

After injuries to Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith, the Ravens turned to Graham to start at cornerback on Sunday Night Football against Pittsburgh.

He didn’t disappoint.

Graham came up with an interception, three pass breakups and eight tackles, playing a key role in the Ravens’ hard-nosed 13-10 victory.

"This is exactly what I envisioned,” Graham said. "I didn’t want it to be by injuries, but I wanted to get out there, show what I could do and hopefully find a way for me to play.”

It was just the second game that Graham had started the last three seasons.

The six-year veteran signed with the Ravens this offseason after five years with the Chicago Bears, where he was primarily a special teams player. One of the reasons Graham signed with the Ravens was that they promised him an opportunity to compete for a job on defense.

Graham was the team’s No. 4 cornerback coming out of training camp, but the injuries to Webb and Smith have thrust him into the starting lineup and he took advantage of it.

"When you have injuries, the next guy has to step up and I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to play with Ed Reed and Chykie Brown and you just got to step up and make plays,” Graham said.

Graham was part of a Ravens secondary that held Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich to 177 passing yards on the night.

The biggest play of the game for Graham came in the third quarter, when he picked off Leftwich’s pass intended for Emanuel Sanders. The pass ended a Steelers drive as they were marching into Ravens territory and threatening to tie the game or take the lead.

He jumped the route and made a leaping catch to pick off the pass and then returned it 20 yards to eventually set up a Justin Tucker 39-yard field goal, which proved to be the game winner.

"Leftwich stared at the guy a little bit, and I was able to see the route,” Graham said. "I was able to come up underneath and get the ball. It was one of those plays and I was in the right place at the right time.”

After the interception, Graham came back with two more critical plays in the fourth quarter. He broke up a third-down pass intended for Mike Wallace in the end zone, forcing the Steelers to settle for a field goal from Baltimore’s 4-yard line.

Then on the Steelers’ final possession, he laid a big hit on tight end Health Miller to force an incompletion.

"Corey Graham came up big,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He played really well.”

As the Ravens head down the final stretch of the season, Graham will likely continue to be a big piece of the defense. Smith is out for an unknown amount of time after undergoing a sports hernia operation, and Graham is expected to be the starter for the coming weeks.

"However you get in, you have to take it,” Graham said. "You make the best out of every opportunity you get."

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