With no Ray Lewis or Ed Reed around anymore, questions of team leadership always come up around Baltimore when the Ravens lose.
After the Ravens gave up six touchdowns to the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger and suffered their second straight loss last week, cornerback Lardarius Webb was the man to step up.
Webb talked to the secondary in the defensive backs' meeting room on Wednesday.
"He was tired of what we were putting on film as a whole in the secondary," cornerback Anthony Levine said after Sunday's 21-7 win, in which the secondary allowed just 179 passing yards to Titans rookie Zach Mettenberger.
"[Webb] comes from a tradition in the secondary that plays ball. When he stood up and told us we needed to go out there and play ball, you could tell he meant it. I didn't want to let him down."
Webb said it wasn't an animated discussion, but Levine could tell he was passionate.
"You could tell that in his eyes that he was tired of what was going on," Levine said. "So he challenged us in practice. He challenged us in practice to go out and make plays and not get beat deep and to compete."
The Ravens surrendered deep touchdowns of 19, 47, 57 and 33 yards in Pittsburgh. Those were the first. Baltimore lost both games to the Bengals because of long receptions – a 77-yard touchdown to receiver A.J. Green in Week 1 and a* *53-yarder to Mohamed Sanu in Week 8.
Baltimore's defense entered Sunday's game ranked 24th in the league in passing yards allowed per game (263), and on Friday learned that it will be without top cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot) for the remainder of the season.
"It was just like talking to the boys, friend to friend. I was just letting them know that we just have to start it now," Webb said. "Everybody has tough games. We just have to live and learn, watch film, and remember that's not us. We're way better than that."
Webb himself got beat by wide receiver Markus Wheaton on the 47-yard score, and gave up seven catches for 105 yards in coverage, per Pro Football Focus (PFF).
Webb hasn't had his finest season after missing training camp and the first two games of the regular season due to a back injury. Entering Sunday's game, he was ranked as the 98th best cornerback in the NFL by PFF.
"I was going to go out and put it on myself, work on my technique, work on my football mechanics because I've been back four or five weeks and I need to get that going," Webb said. "I'm glad we were encouraging each other all week. We just have to keep on working to get better."
Webb said this isn't the first time he has challenged his fellow defensive backs. He did so last year after Peyton Manning tossed five touchdowns against them in Denver to open the year.
The Ravens' decision to release two cornerbacks – Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks – and bring in Danny Gorrer, promote undrafted rookie Tramain Jacobs and give Levine a shot, shook things up, too.
"They made a big move and brought new guys in here," Webb said.
"We just said we've got to get back to the Ravens secondary when we had the Reeds and [Chris] McAlisters. We had to challenge these guys. We don't give up deep balls in the back end. They can catch a couple, but we don't let them behind us. We just worked all week on keeping them in front of us."
The longest reception the Ravens allowed Sunday against the Titans was 17 yards. Baltimore allowed three of them in Tennessee's first two drives. But the Ravens clamped down after the first quarter.
"It's not playing scared," Webb said. "It's challenging, but not over our heads. If we don't give up any deep balls, we win."