Ravens Secondary Snaps Antonio Brown's Streak


The Ravens watched Bengals wideout A.J. Green go off at M&T Bank Stadium four days before.

They weren't in the mood to see another AFC North wideout have a banner day in Pittsburgh.

On Thursday night, Baltimore broke Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown's streak of 35 regular-season games with at least five catches and 50 yards – one of the most impressive streaks running in the NFL.

Brown was limited to five catches for 42 yards, including in an overtime that gave him more opportunities. Brown entered the game as the NFL's second-leading wide receiver with 436 yards (an average of 145 yards per game).

It was no small feat for a secondary that has had its fair share of problems so far this season.

"My secondary unit, we were challenged," safety Will Hill said.

"We felt as though all those games that we lost were on us. We had a great challenge with Antonio Brown out there to keep everything in front of us and tackle to come out with a win. We're happy, but not satisfied right now."

Brown had a chance at a touchdown in the first half, but cornerback Jimmy Smith was close in pursuit and got a hand in Brown's line of sight. The ball squirted through his Brown's arms and incomplete as he made the diving effort.

After getting torched by Green, who had 227 receiving yards and two touchdowns at M&T Bank Stadium, Smith rebounded by allowing just two receptions for 28 yards in Pittsburgh, according to Pro Football Focus. He was on Brown for much of the night and gave him just one 17-yard catch.

Smith was in on the first fourth-down stop in overtime, hitting quarterback Michael Vick. He was also in coverage on Vick's incomplete fourth-down pass on the Steelers' second overtime possession.

"There were no leaky holes in the defense," Smith said. "We didn't give up big plays."

The Ravens didn't give up a single pass over 20 yards the entire night. Markus Wheaton had the longest for 18 yards, but that was his only grab. Tight end Heath Miller was held to just one catch for 1 yard.

Brown doesn't have to burn a team deep to get big gains. He does much of his damage with his feet as he's extremely elusive after the catch. The Ravens defense, criticized for its lack of effort after a loss in Oakland, rallied to the ball on Thursday night.

New cornerback Will Davis planted Brown in the turf after one third-down catch in which Brown tried to reverse course across the field to move the chains.

"Antonio is a very dangerous receiver, one of the best in the league," cornerback Lardarius webb said. "You have to really pay attention to where he is. We had to know where he was at and [Bell]. If we knew where those guys were at, we knew where their big plays were at."

The Ravens also got more sacks Thursday night in large part because of the secondary's work. Linebacker Daryl Smith notched one sack on a delayed blitz up the middle, which takes time to develop. Rookie outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith got back-to-back hits on Vick after the quarterback could find nobody open.

"Finally, we did our job," Hill said. "We've got to continue to do our job and do it at a high level."

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