Joining Ravens Best Decision Of Corey Graham's Life


Corey Graham had games like Saturday in mind when he decided to sign with the Baltimore Ravens this offseason.

"I knew from the beginning it was the best decision I ever made in my life," Graham said.

He then thought about that comment for a second, and thought he better add some clarification.

"Well, one of the best. Probably marrying my wife was the best," Graham said with a grin.

Graham has flourished in Baltimore, and the sixth-year cornerback had arguably the best game of his career in Saturday's 38-35 victory over the Denver Broncos. He picked off two passes from future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, including an interception in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal.

He also returned his first interception for a 39-yard touchdown to give the Ravens an early lead in the divisional-round matchup.

The performance was just the latest example of what Graham expected when he came to Baltimore.

"Coach [John] Harbaugh gives guys a chance to come out and play," Graham said. "He told me before I signed here that if I deserved to play I would. He is a man of his word. He has given me the opportunity to play and that is all I've asked for."

Along with wide receiver Jacoby Jones, Graham was one of the under-the-radar signings that the Ravens made during the offseason. While they didn't generate much buzz at the time, the additions of Graham and Jones have proved critical this year, especially in the win over Denver.

"Those guys always say, 'hanks for the opportunity,' they always say that," Harbaugh said. "And I'm like, 'Thank you, thanks for coming. Thanks for being part of us.' Even today they both said, 'Thanks for the opportunity.' There's a lot of great guys in this league that don't always get an opportunity and those two have gotten it this year and made the most of it."

Graham, who was primarily a special teamer during his five years in Chicago, was the Ravens' No. 4 cornerback coming into the season. Then injuries to Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith moved Graham up the depth chart, and he grabbed hold of the starting job once given the opportunity.

He started eight games this year, finishing the regular season with two interceptions, 60 tackles and eight passes defensed.

He has a knack for being around the football, and he showed that against the Broncos.

On Graham's pick-six, he snatched a tipped ball then had only Manning to beat to get into the end zone.

"It came right to me," Graham said. "It was just one of those plays, being in the right spot."

Graham was in the right spot again in overtime.

Manning was under pressure from linebacker Paul Kruger and flung a pass intended for wide receiver Brandon Stokley. The pass was off the mark, and Graham made the interception falling to the turf at the Broncos' 45-yard line. Six plays later, Justin Tucker drilled a 47-yard field goal to give the Ravens the win.

"Stokley turned it up the field on me, and I was recovering, trying to get back to him," Graham said. "I was able to undercut it and get underneath it. It was one of those plays."

Graham now hopes that the Ravens are able to continue their postseason run and put him in the Super Bowl for the first time. 

"I always want to go out there and make plays," Graham said. "It is a big game. We obviously want to go to the Super Bowl. We wanted to get this win for Ray [Lewis], and I was going to do everything I possibly could to help him get this victory."

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