As bad as it looked, Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe proclaimed after Thursday night's game that his devastating hit on Browns wide receiver and return specialist Joshua Cribbs was legal and not dirty.
The first-quarter hit knocked Cribbs out for the remainder of the game and caused a fumble, which was recovered by Baltimore linebacker Jameel McClain.
Ellerbe laid Cribbs out as he returned a punt, hitting him with his shoulder so hard that the ball and Cribbs' helmet were jettisoned.
"My head didn't touch him. It was all shoulder," Ellerbe said. "I didn't know. I just thought I got a good shot on him."
Players from both sidelines gathered around Cribbs as he lay motionless on the M&T Bank Stadium turf. They went down to one knee as a sign of respect and with some saying prayers – including Ellerbe.
"I said a prayer for him that he would be alright," Ellerbe said. "He came to. It's part of the game; you don't go out there and intentionally try to do that."
Cribbs walked off the field under his own power, but did not return. The Browns announced that he had a head injury. Cribbs' head landed hard on the turf and his body seemed to go stiff in midair.
"He got hit hard," Browns Head Coach Pat Shurmur said. "Obviously, you're concerned anytime that happens. My understanding is that he got banged around, but we'll see where he's at."
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was asked how a player can regain focus after such a scary hit.
"Because you have to; it's not that you want to," he said. "That's a young kid I've been talking to for a while. To see him laying down there motionless, once again, you remove yourself from the game instantly. When the whistle blows again, you've got to start back up.
"That's just the way it is, the way the business goes, whether I like it or not. To see a player fall to their knees praying shows how much we really respect each other. We're not out there to hurt each other."
Cribbs had two catches for 11 yards before the hit. The returner, who took a punt back for a touchdown against the Ravens last year, finished with the one punt return for 14 yards.