With the Baltimore Ravens up by just four points and the Cincinnati Bengals crossing midfield, midway through the fourth quarter, the team was searching for a big play from the defense.
And who else but Terrell Suggs? He’s been the man to make the big play when the Ravens’ defense has needed it most all season long.
Suggs stripped Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham from behind after the tight end had made a short reception, and strong safety Bernard Pollard recovered the fumble at the Ravens’ 40-yard line. Three plays later, running back Ray Rice galloped 51 yards to give the Ravens a 24-13 advantage with just over five minutes remaining in the game.
“We like to get turnovers as a defense,” Suggs said, via The Baltimore Sun. “The coaches are always forcing that issue, that we have to get turnovers. On the play before, the guy got outside, and it was my fault. [Inside linebacker] Ray [Lewis] said, ‘You owe me one.’ I said, ‘All right,’ and when he caught the ball, I knew he missed it and said, ‘Just go for the strip.” Went for it and got it.”
The Ravens would hold on for a 24-16 victory, but it appeared that the team was in for a roller coaster ending until Suggs’ timely turnover.
Suggs set a career-high and AFC-best with his 14th sack of the season of rookie quarterback Andy Dalton in the game’s final quarter and established a new franchise record with his seventh forced fumble of the season.
Prior to his monstrous fourth quarter, Suggs was having a difficult time against Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who had contributed to Suggs compiling a meager 1 1/2 sacks against Cincinnati since the team drafted Whitworth in 2006.
The five-time pro bowler said he felt no extra pressure to make to make a play.
“I thought I was going to pick a couple, actually,” Suggs said. “He threw three that were right over my head or outside of my hands. … That’s what I was going for. But I’ll take the forced fumble and the sack. It all goes into the stats. We all love stats on this defense, particularly me.”