Outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw's last regular-season sack came on Dec. 22, 2013 against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Upshaw even had to share that one.
Fast forward 23 months and Upshaw came through in the clutch Sunday against the Rams.
In his first regular-season sack since, Upshaw blindsided Rams quarterback Case Keenum and knocked the ball out with one minute remaining in the fourth quarter. Defensive tackle Lawrence Guy recovered the fumble and the Ravens moved into game-winning field-goal possession on their next drive.
Five plays later, Ravens win.
It's been a while since the soft-spoken Upshaw has been the hero of an NFL game because he often does the dirty work that gets little acclaim. But the Ravens' top 2012 draft pick deserved that honor following Sunday's 16-13 win.
"Here's a guy that has been competing like crazy, been listening to all of your criticism from time to time – not everybody, just a couple – and doesn't let it get to him because he knows how hard he works," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
"He knows what kind of player he is, and to see it pay off for him in a moment like this is just incredibly rewarding for him and for all of us too – his coaches."
Upshaw entered the year looking for more sacks as he stepped somewhat into the role of departed pass rusher Pernell McPhee. When Terrell Suggs went down with a season-ending Achilles tear in Week 1, Upshaw became an even more integral piece of the defense.
Still, the sack production hadn't come for Upshaw, as Dumervil has been the teeth in the Ravens' pass rush this season. That is, until Sunday.
"I was like a proud big brother," Dumervil said. "His get-off was amazing. He should have had a sack-fumble last week. So, it's cool; it's good to see that he's becoming more of a complete player. He helps me, giving me techniques with the runs. And now, to see him start to flourish in the pass rush is awesome."
The soft-spoken Upshaw downplayed his game-changing strip-sack. He said he didn't even want to think about it snapping a drought.
Upshaw said he beat Rams left tackle Greg Robinson earlier in the game with the same rush, in which he just used his speed and overpowered Robinson around his outside shoulder. Upshaw is known as a bull rusher, [comma] but has been finding more success bending around the edge the past couple weeks.
"We won the game, so it feels good," Upshaw said. "We had to make a play. Somebody had to make a play, and I'm just glad I made it."
The Ravens defense made plenty of them against the Rams. Baltimore entered with just five turnovers all season, but got four fumble recoveries on Sunday.
Keenum fumbled a handoff that was recovered by linebacker Albert McClellan. Tavon Austin gave his former city a gift with a muffed punt that was scooped up by linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Lastly, at the start of the fourth quarter, defensive tackle Brandon Williams punched the ball out of running back Todd Gurley's arms, shifting the momentum and leading to the Ravens' fourth-quarter run. Upshaw was the man that fell on that fumble.
Harbaugh talked to the team in the week leading up to the Week 10 Jaguars game about their turnovers being like a jar of olives. Once the first was plucked, more would come tumbling out.
The Ravens got one turnover (a Lardarius Webb interception) versus the Jags. The following week, four more bounced into their arms.
"All year, we've been talking about going after the ball," Mosley said. "And for whatever reason, the ball hasn't been popping our way. Today, it did, and we capitalized. It's all about effort, guys doing their job and sticking together as one."