Ravens safety Jim Leonhard was a busy man in a 28-10 win over the Cleveland Browns.
When Yamon Figurs was ruled inactive with a hamstring injury, Leonhard stepped in as the main kick returner.
When safety Dawan Landry was carted off the field after he was struck in the helmet by a knee, Leonhard became the next man up in the secondary.
With ample chances to make plays, Leonhard did just that. The four-year veteran posted one tackle for a loss, one sack, one pass defensed and one special teams stop to go along with a 21-yard punt return and three kickoff returns for a 26.0-yard average.
After three seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Leonhard was primarily used for his special teams coverage skills. Now, he's appreciative of the trust that the Ravens coaching staff has in him.
"I think I just went back to try and enjoy playing every day and that makes such a big difference…and enjoying yourself, which all these guys do," Leonhard said. "I think that's probably the biggest difference. But coming in here, I thought I had an opportunity to help this team. I think I still have a lot to do."
Leonhard hadn't returned a kickoff since his days at Flambeau High School in Tony, Wisc., but found out he would field the opening kick hours before Sunday's game. Leonhard ended his career at the University of Wisconsin as the Big Ten's career leader in punt return yardage with 1,347 yards.
"I was a little bit nervous," Leonhard admitted. "I haven't been out there returning kicks and punts that much since I've been in the NFL. There were some holes, so those guys did a great job up front and things opened up, and I just tried to run as fast as I could."
His promotion to safety was an in-game decision.
Landry was hit in the head by Browns running back Jamal Lewis' knee in the final minute of the first half. He laid on the field for nearly 10 minutes under the attention of both teams' medical staffs before being strapped to a stretcher.
Leonhard was one of many players that took a knee and prayed for Landry, who never lost consciousness and had a CT scan that indicated there were no permanent injuries.
When Leonhard's number was called, however, he was quick to make an impact.
After Ravens safety Ed Reed returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, Leonhard made a key third-down sack on the ensuing series to get the ball back for Baltimore's offense.
"That's the fun part of playing for Rex and with this defense," Leonhard explained. "If you make plays for him in practice, he's going to throw you a bone in the game. It was my turn on that play."
Landry Taken to Shock TraumaLandry was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center for a CT scan and further monitoring, but initial reports from Ravens team orthopedist Dr. Leigh Ann Curl said that Landry did not report any numbness in his extremities.
According to a team spokesman, the safety suffered a spinal cord concussion. Landry appeared to be speaking and conscious when he was immobilized and taken off the field.
"It's a moment when nothing else matters but making sure that he's healthy," said safety Ed Reed. "This is just a game to be played, like Ray [Lewis] said, this is a game that we play that we love to play but we know at any point you can have a situation like that. For Dawan to have to go through that, our prayers were going out to him right then and there. The game was forgotten about. At that moment [we just want] to make sure his health is fine."
The Ravens plan to run more tests Monday, including an MRI.
Browns return specialist Joshua Cribbs, who burned the Ravens for a career-high 245 yards on seven kickoffs in one game last year, was held in check by a sound special teams scheme.
Cribbs only posted three kickoff returns for 52 yards and handled two punts for 24 yards after kicker Matt Stover and punter Sam Koch spent the day placing their boots near the sidelines or away from the Pro Bowler.
"I thought our guys did a really nice job of playing off the wedge, playing off blocks, and smoking down the field pretty good," said head coach John Harbaugh. "Both our kicker and punter did a nice job today, and both coverage teams."
Linebacker Terrell Suggs totaled two sacks for the 46th and 47th sacks of his career, the sixth-most among active players since 2003, while also forcing a fumble.
The Ravens are 10-0 when Suggs notches two or more sacks, and he was just as happy to help the team advance to 2-0 this season against an AFC North rival.
"We just wanted to play with some consistency," Suggs said. "We knew we needed to defend our home turf. And this is M&T, and we let them come in here and steal a win from us last year, so that was definitely in the back of our minds, we knew we had to play."
Head coach John Harbaugh threw the red challenge flag for the first time in his career in the fourth quarter when it was ruled that running back Ray Rice fumbled the football. Replay clearly showed that Rice's elbow had touched the ground before the ball came out, and Harbaugh was successful on his challenge…Cornerback Chris McAlister posted an interception for the second consecutive game. "All you have to do is be close to the ball," McAlister said. "If you just happen to be close, you have a chance to make plays."