The Ravens defense needed a spark and Josh Bynes provided one.
Bynes made an instant impact during Sunday’s overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers, playing 43 snaps as the starting middle linebacker just four days after being signed. With five tackles and an interception, Bynes’ performance was even more impressive because it was his first NFL game since last November when he played for the Arizona Cardinals.
On Bynes’ interception, he wasn’t fooled when running back Jaylen Samuels attempted a pass from the Wildcat formation. Matthew Judon chased Samuels toward the sideline and forced him to hurry a throw that Bynes picked off.
That turnover set up Baltimore’s first touchdown, and after a performance like Sunday, don’t expect Bynes’ role to decrease. He solidifed the middle linebacker position and allowed Patrick Onwuasor to return to the weakside linebacker position that he played so well last year. Onwuasor had six tackles Sunday in perhaps his best game of the season, and the Ravens defense looked much more organized, coming off back-to-back weeks of allowing more than 500 yards.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said Bynes will continue to play at the middle linebacker position and that he played “remarkably well” for someone who had only practiced three days prior to the game.
“He had a number of tackles, he was in the right spot, he played hard his coverage was solid,” Harbaugh said.
“I’m sure he’ll tell you they’re a number of things he wants to do better. Credit to him, because he was in great shape. You do worry about guys in that situation, just being able to handle it physically. He handled it great. We didn’t even plan on playing him that many reps. But he felt so good during the game he was able to do it.”
Cornerback Maurice Canady Holds Firm Coverage
Maurice Canady is trending upward, from being released at the end of the preseason, practice squad at the beginning of the regular season to starter in Pittsburgh. Canady played a season-high 55 snaps Sunday, just three fewer than Brandon Carr and Earl Thomas III and five fewer than Marlon Humphrey.
Canady was targeted often by the Steelers, which is no surprise considering how well Humphrey is playing. Humphrey was the hero of Sunday’s victory, stripping the ball from JuJu Smith-Schuster and recovering the fumble to set up Justin Tucker’s game-winning field goal.
However, Canady was one of the unsung heroes with a team-high seven tackles. His play has become more important with the injuries to cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (knee), who has missed the last four games, and Tavon Young (neck) who is out for the season.
“Maurice really stepped up,” Harbaugh said. “He covered man, covered zone, made tackles. I thought he played very well. It’s nice to see a guy step up when the opportunity comes and he did it.”
Harbaugh Would Be Surprised By League Discipline of Earl Thomas
The scariest moment of Sunday’s game was the hit by Ravens safety Earl Thomas that left Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph on the field unconscious. Rudolph left the game and was taken to the hospital for a concussion, but was thankfully reportedly allowed to go home later that night.
After reviewing the play, Harbaugh saw Thomas trying to pull off the tackle before he made contact.
“I see Earl trying to pull off. There’s no question about it when you watch the tape,” Harbaugh said. “I respect him for that. It’s just an unfortunate collision. He ticked his chin, and that’s what happened, but he tried to get out of there. He didn’t try to hit him. He felt bad about the result of it. He didn’t want to see an injury for sure. None of us do. It looks like Mason’s OK, so we’re glad to hear that. We prayed for him after the game. That’s how we feel about him and the situation.
“Those guys have a brotherhood. There’s very few players in this league that don’t feel that way. So after seeing it on tape, I think it’s pretty clear. I think it’s very clear actually.”
Harbaugh was then asked if he would be surprised by a reaction from the league.
“It would surprise me based on what’s on the tape, in all honesty. It would,” Harbaugh said. “But I don’t know what to expect, so I’m probably not a real good predictor of that.”
Injury Update on Marquise Brown, Mark Andrews
The Ravens placed veteran safety Tony Jefferson on injured reserve Monday in the aftermath of his season-ending knee injury Sunday. Sean Modster, an undrafted rookie wide receiver from Boise State who was one of the final roster cuts in September, has been signed to the practice squad.
As for wide receiver Marquise Brown’s ankle injury suffered Sunday, Harbaugh said it was, “nothing serious.”
As for tight end Mark Andrews’ foot injury, Harbaugh said the second-year tight end was doing what it takes to get ready to play week-to-week.
“He’s just dealing with the thing,” Harbaugh said. “He just has to keep working on that, and that’s just part of the process.”