Last week, when the Pittsburgh Steelers improbably marched 92 yards down the field for a game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Ravens' stellar defense, starting cornerback **Fabian Washington** could only watch from the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Washington is now doing everything he can to make sure that doesn't happen this weekend against Dallas.
Part of the reason Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was able to go 7-of-11 (including one spike to stop the clock) for 89 yards on that late drive was because Pittsburgh immediately adopted a four-wideout package to attack the Ravens' short-handed secondary.
With only **Samari Rolle**, **Corey Ivy** and **Frank Walker** as the other cornerbacks activated for the game, safety Ed Reed!(/team/roster/ed-reed/89ece203-7de4-4b40-9651-f16f4c3b7699/ "Ed Reed") was forced to cover a wideout at times instead of patrolling the back end.
"That was terrible," Washington said. "I really wish I was in there and could've helped my team try to pull out that win. But, unfortunately, my hamstring did go out on me, and I couldn't do anything but just watch."
Washington did not practice Wednesday, but said he is confident he'll be able to participate in the Saturday showcase on NFL Network (8:15 p.m. ET).
"Right now, it's been improving day to day," he stated. "We play on Saturday. I wish we played on Sunday to get that extra day, but we're not. By Saturday, I think my chances are very high I am going to play."
When he's been on the field, Washington has excelled opposite Rolle. The Ravens acquired the former first-round draft pick from the Oakland Raiders this offseason for a fourth-rounder, and he's responded with 30 tackles and a team-high 18 passes defensed.
"We got the guy we thought we were going to get, and he's been tremendous," said defensive coordinator **Rex Ryan**. "We were kidding him because we're telling our guys, 'Make sure you're sprinting to the ball when it's thrown to Fabian because he's going to bat it down somewhere.' He's dropped a few interceptions this year, but I think if he would've caught them he'd probably be headed to the Pro Bowl."
But, the injury bug has bitten too often. In addition to the hamstring, Washington has dealt with neck and shoulder injuries, as well.
"It's frustrating, very frustrating," Washington explained. "This is the first year I've really had to deal with injuries. It [stinks] because, because I was starting to play where I'm getting comfortable and just flying around playing football, and then you get a hamstring injury.
"For a guy like me, I need my legs out there almost at full strength to perform like I want to perform. So that was definitely a setback."
In case Washington cannot endure an entire game again, the Ravens will likely make cornerback **Evan Oglesby** active on game day. Oglesby, who has been on Baltimore's 53-man roster all season, has played in seven contests this year.
The Ravens will need all able hands to defend Dallas' potent passing attack, ranked second in the league by totaling 238.8 passing yards per game.
Quarterback Tony Romo is one of the game's best gunslingers, and he has the luxury of playmaking wideouts Terrell Owens, Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton to fetch his throws. All three can be a matchup nightmare.
Williams and Owens are both 6-foot-3 and around 220 pounds, while Crayton is listed at 6-foot, 203. Owens may lead the way with 58 catches for 886 yards and nine scores, but the trio combines for an average 14.5 yards per catch.
Meanwhile, Romo, who is second in the NFL with a 98.3 passer rating, has tossed 24 touchdowns to only 11 interceptions and owns a 63.1 completion percentage.
"They're all big, long, fast receivers], very physical players,” said head coach [**John Harbaugh**, who faced the Cowboys twice a year in 10 seasons as an assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles. "They all have very good hands and can body up on any defender and make a play. Very accurate quarterback. They like to get their receivers catching the ball running, running away from defenses, across defenses.
"They aim for big plays, so we just have to cover them tight. We have to be aggressive in our coverage and get after them and cover them."
Ranked second in the league (179.5 passing yards allowed per game), Baltimore's pass defense has excelled despite the loss of safety **Dawan Landry** and cornerback **Chris McAlister** to Injured Reserve earlier in the year.
Which is where Washington's health comes into play. The speedster – who ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the 2005 NFL Combine – is eager to take part in another challenge for the Ravens' defensive backfield.
"They have some great receivers," Those guys, they can play, man. So you definitely, as a corner, you love these types of games because then you can see where you're at as a player going against those types of guys."