Lardarius Webb has always liked being close to the action.
That's why when the Ravens asked him to move inside in the nickel package for Sunday's game against the Bengals, Webb loved the idea.
He then came out and played what he considered his best game of the season.
"That's my thing," Webb said after the 20-17 victory. "I always played outside because that's where they wanted me at and that's where they needed me at. I felt like with me playing safety in college, and I like to tackle, that's just my spot. I like that spot. I feel comfortable."
Webb finished the game with five tackles, an interception and six passes defensed. He was all over the field, as the Ravens also used him in a variety of blitz packages and he pressured quarterback Andy Dalton on three separate occasions.
"With that position you get to tackle, you get to* *blitz, you get to do it all," Webb said. "You kind of just get to play football and that's what I like about it."
Webb shined in the gritty division victory. He led a secondary that blanketed a talented Bengals receiving corps led by Pro Bowler A.J. Green. According to Pro Football Focus, Webb's performance was the second best game by any Ravens player this season.
Webb still played outside in two receiver sets, but when the Ravens brought in a third cornerback, he defended the middle and Jimmy Smith and Corey Graham took the outside targets. The coaches decided to change Webb's assignment based on their gameplan against Cincinnati.
"A lot of it had to do with our scheme in that game," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Whether we'll do that again next week, I don't know. It had to do with the coverages we were playing and the way we were trying to match up their numerous talented receivers, starting with A.J. Green."
The impressive game against the Bengals is a good sign for Webb, who played his best game since having surgery to repair a torn ACL that ended his 2012 season after his six games. Webb was a shutdown corner garnering Pro Bowl consideration before suffering the injury.
He returned to the field 10 months later, and has said throughout this season that he is still working his way back to being the same player he was before the injury.
"I sat out a whole year basically, so it's getting back into that zone and understanding the game, trusting the game," he said.
Harbaugh also indicated that Webb's improved health was considered in playing him in the nickel role, where he* *played earlier in his career.
"Maybe he's a little healthier* *as well, so you feel a little more comfortable putting him in there now as opposed to earlier in the season," Harbaugh said.
Webb's performance on Sunday was critical in beating the Bengals, and it was also big for him personally. He has been up-and-down this year, and responded from a tough outing the previous week against Cleveland where he allowed the Browns to convert a critical fourth-and-1 play in his direction.
"I felt like I had let my team down on the fourth -and-1, which I did everything I could," he said. "But I just felt like I needed to get better and I just took it in practice."
Webb hopes to use his game against the Bengals as a step in returning to the dominant defender that he has been during his five-year career.
"I feel like I still have to get better. I have to go out and have a good week of practice and keep building on this game," Webb said.