With rookie Joe Flacco making his first NFL start in place of Troy Smith (illness) and Kyle Boller (shoulder), the Ravens needed all the help they could get on offense.
Safety Tom Zbikowski obliged on special teams.
Down 3-0 to the St. Louis Rams in the first quarter, Baltimore had their opponents backed up in their own end zone. The Ravens forced a three-and-out and an dangerous punt near the back line.
Zbikowski rushed punter Donnie Jones directly up the middle and laid out for the block, clipping the football with his fingertips. When the Ravens took over on St. Louis' 20-yard line, it took six plays to tie the ballgame with a 22-yard Matt Stover field goal.
"I was setting a pick on the center and expected the personal protector to come to me," Zbikowski said. "He didn't, so I had a free shot. I just got my hands high and used the technique I've practiced and made the play."
The third-round draft pick was known for making an impact on special teams during a stellar career at Notre Dame, where he owns three career punt returns for touchdowns.
Zbikowski also showed up in a Ravens secondary that was missing Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed, who is nursing a shoulder injury. Stepping in front of tight end Joe Klopfenstein over the middle, Zbikowski intercepted quarterback Bruce Gradkowski and returned it 21 yards to the Rams' 44.
Zbikowski chalks his success up to learning on the job.
"Every play, you learn something," he explained. "As a rookie, it's definitely a big step up knowledge-wise in seeing something happen and being able to react to make plays. It's carrying over to special teams and my defense, as well."
Unfortunately for the Ravens, Zbikowski couldn't do it all, as Baltimore fell 24-10 to the Rams.
Suggs is Back
In his first game action since rejoining the Ravens after a long training camp holdout, linebacker Terrell Suggs was happy to be back in purple and black.
Suggs posted two stops and did not have any quarterback hurries, which demonstrated to him that he still has some work to do before the Ravens open their regular season against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"It felt really good to run around with my boys and play football," he said. "I don't think I played too badly. I'm still a little rusty and I have to knock the dust off. But hopefully, by Sept. 7, all the rust will be gone."
Suggs suited up for Monday's practice, his first since holding out in protest of his franchise tag tender.
Safety Jim Leonhard, an offseason free agent pickup, started alongside Dawan Landry in Reed's absence and ended up leading the team with seven tackles. In the post-game locker room, head coach John Harbaugh called Leonhard to the middle of the team so he could break down the huddle, which is regarded as a special recognition…The Ravens played without starting running back Willis McGahee (knee), tight end Todd Heap (calf), offensive tackle Jared Gaither (ankle), defensive tackles Haloti Ngata (knee) and Kelly Gregg (knee), cornerback Chris McAlister (knee) and (shoulder).