A big question going into Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins was how the Ravens defense would respond to the loss of All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.
Rookie Timmy Jernigan had the difficult task for of filling Ngata's massive cleats, and the second-round pick caught his coaches' attention with how he handled the task.
"Timmy Jernigan played really well," Harbaugh said. "He was really explosive and really powerful."
Jernigan played the most he has all season, and he finished Sunday's victory over the Dolphins with one tackle. Interior defensive linemen usually aren't the players to rack up the stats, but he and nose tackle Brandon Williams were a big reason the Ravens only allowed 63 yards on the ground. It was the 23rd consecutive game that the Ravens did not allow a 100-yard rusher.
"He really dented the interior of their offensive line, as did Brandon Williams and all the guys in there," Harbaugh said. "He really was a factor in there and a force in there with more reps."
Jernigan played 36 snaps in the victory – the most of any defensive lineman – and received a positive-0.5 grade from Pro Football Focus. Before Sunday's contest, the most snaps Jernigan had played was 29 against the Saints in Week 12.
Jerngian had made a push for more playing time even before Ngata was suspended, and he showed why the Ravens pounced on him with the 46th-overall pick in May's draft.
"I felt like the defense was pretty confident in what I could do, and the way I've been playing since I've been here," Jernigan said. "Of course I can't do what Haloti does step-for-step – the guy is going to be a Hall of Famer one day – but I'm pretty confident in myself, and I know that I can play."
Along with Jernigan, the Ravens also turned to Williams, Chris Canty, Terrence Cody and Lawrence Guy to offset Ngata's absence. The Ravens know they're without Ngata for the rest of the regular season, and they plan to continue to rely on Jernigan to help pick up the slack.
"We feel pretty comfortable coming into every game with how we practice and prepare," Jernigan said. "We feel that we're going to be the stronger team. The biggest thing is just coming out and executing."