Cornerback Lardarius Webb talked for several minutes Friday afternoon in the Ravens locker room about the challenging 2014 season.
He missed five games with a back injury. He returned to action, but wasn't full strength. He struggled to play at the level he and the Ravens expected from him. He had to play through pain to lead a secondary that has seen five cornerbacks land on injured reserve.
"It's been a long year," Webb said several times.
All the frustration seemed to pay off late in Sunday's 20-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Webb came up with his first interception of the season, sealing the victory and sending Baltimore back to the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.
"It was nice to get it," Webb said. "It'd been a long year – I missed the first five games – and just to finally get that interception, man, that was big. It's going to help out a lot going into the playoffs."
The turnover brought Webb full circle, and it's a culmination of a challenging season for the six-year veteran. He's back to playing at a high level after a long road back from a back injury that he suffered on the first day of training camp.
He has played with noticeably more speed and quickness the last few weeks, and he's garnered praise from Head Coach John Harbaugh and Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees for the way he's come on recently.
The interception was evidence of the recent strides the veteran cornerback has made.
"It was one of the first times I could actually have a ball that I could make a play on," he said. "I was me – I just made the play, just caught it actually."
The play also put the Ravens back in the postseason, where Webb has a chance to make the early-season struggles a distance memory.
"I think a lot of guys are going to be happy that you kind of look at the season and kind of be like, 'OK, all the bad things I did, all the mess-ups I did, I can let that go. It's a new season, it's a new me,'" he said. "We're just going to look at it like that. We've got a whole new start, and our goals and dreams are still alive."
The Ravens also have the benefit of knowing that Webb is trending up at the end of the season. His improvement has helped patch up a hobbled secondary, and the Ravens go into the postseason with Webb playing his best football of the season.
"I just know I've been playing better since I've been feeling good," Webb said. "And when I'm feeling good, I make plays like that. So, I'm just going to keep on playing."