Following the Ravens' 41-13 win over the Houston Texans, tight end Todd Heap stepped to the post-game podium with a smile on his face.
Throughout a campaign that had been sparse on Heap's stat sheet, he seemed happy – almost relieved – to catch two touchdowns in his most-prolific effort of the year.
Sure, the former Pro Bowler has been a good soldier and contributed greatly in blocking for the NFL's third-ranked rushing offense.
But Heap was a force in the passing game at Reliant Stadium, leading the team with five receptions for 58 yards.
He kicked off his big day with a 1-yard grab on a play that saw him trip over a Ravens lineman before righting his course for the end zone.
"That was a great feeling," Heap said. "I think at that point in the game, we needed it, so that was what made it even more pretty. I don't think the play was quite like we wanted it to turn out, but we got it done."
Later, he caught a touchdown from Troy Smith from 14 yards out, Smith's first scoring pass this season.
While getting in the end zone is certainly a positive, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh continued to praise Heap's prowess in blocking.
With Heap helping out on the edge, Baltimore posted 162 yards rushing on 40 total carries, including two touchdowns from running back Willis McGahee.
"Todd Heap blocked the best he has all year," Harbaugh said in his Monday press conference. "He was dominant up front at the end of the line of scrimmage blocking. So as excited as we are about the passing game, we're just as excited about the running game part of it because that's what tight ends do."
Ever the team player, Heap hopes he is only the next in a line of Ravens that become more involved with the offense.
"It feels good, but at the same time, we aren't where we want to be yet," he said. "I think we're improving; we're seeing signs of what we were capable of. But as far as all of us were concerned in the huddle, we know we can get a lot better."
Mason's Status Uncertain
Early in the week, it is uncertain if wideout Derrick Mason will be available for this Sunday's matchup with the New York Giants.
Mason dislocated his left shoulder in the first quarter of the Houston game but returned after halftime to total three receptions for 41 yards.
"It's too early to say," Harbaugh stated. "I'm hopeful. I would say we expect him to play, but we can't say for sure."
The 12-year veteran has only missed three games due to injury in his career.
Mason jumped high for a long pass from quarterback Joe Flacco near the left sideline and came crashing down while planting his left arm in the turf.
"As soon as I went up, I knew if I came down wrong there was a possibility that I was going to hurt myself. I'm just glad it's not broken," he said. "A dislocation, there's a lot of people that play with it, but my situation is a little bit different because I'm a receiver.
"We'll see how it feels tonight and tomorrow and the rest of the week and we'll determine the rest from there."
Tough Defenses Ahead
Starting with the third-ranked Giants, Baltimore will face a string of stout defenses for the second half of their schedule.
The Philadelphia Eagles (ninth), Washington Redskins (fourth), Pittsburgh Steelers (first) and Dallas Cowboys (11th) are all on the docket.
Harbaugh is especially eager to face New York defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, with whom he coached from 1999-2006 as members of the Eagles' staff.
"It's going to be a huge challenge, not just for our offense, because we are going to play some of the top defenses in the league starting with the Giants this week," Harbaugh said. "They're one of the best-coached defenses in the league.
"Steve Spagnuolo does a tremendous job with those guys," he added with a chuckle. "I'm pretty familiar with his style."
Anderson on Watch
Four-time Pro Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson injured his ankle in the third quarter of Sunday's game and will also be monitored throughout the week.
"You can say that we play six offensive linemen as starters, and we really have pretty much throughout the season," Harbaugh noted. "So we're missing a starting offensive lineman if Willie can't go. He's going to fight like crazy to be back. I know we say that about all of our guys, and there's a chance he will be back, but we don't know."
The Ravens were penalized seven times for 55 yards in the first half, but received no flags in the second. Why? "It was magic. We sprinkled magic dust on them, magic penalty dust," he joked. … Tight end Edgar Jones, who converted from linebacker earlier in the year, notched a half-sack against the Texans. He posted five tackles and a sack last year before moving to offense. "It's a blessing being able to show my talents and God letting me show my talents," Jones stated. "I just try to take advantage of it as much as I can. I'm having a lot of fun out there on offense and defense, just out there playing ball." … Baltimore intercepted Houston a season-high four times, but none of the post-pick lateraling that the Ravens' defense used to do was seen. "We just tell them if they do that, make sure they score, make sure the ball is not in the other team's hands," explained Harbaugh. "That's unacceptable. I'm proud of the fact that they did a good job of securing the football after they got it back."