Ravens' Fuller has sore leg, hindering his play

OWINGS MILLS - Corey Fuller offered no excuses, only explanations. The Baltimore Ravens' veteran cornerback endured a series of fly patterns, slants and crossing routes on Sunday. By the later portion of a 44-41 overtime win over the Seattle Seahawks at M&T Bank Stadium, Fuller was on the bench with a sore leg while free safety Gary Baxter was playing cornerback.

Before Fuller was replaced, receiver Darrell Jackson gained major separation behind him on an 80-yard touchdown pass from Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for a 34-17 lead with five minutes left in the third quarter. "In this business, when you play hurt and look like you're playing bad, you ain't go no excuses," Fuller said. "I tore my quad and my hamstring on the same leg and it's very unfortunate. "I just got to push through it and play more technique. I felt like I couldn't run. I saw a play they ran on me. I read it, but I couldn't explode on that slant the way I wanted to." 

Ravens coach Brian Billick indicated that Fuller's playing time may be rationed out by judging his fatigue level and health. "Are you good for 50 snaps?" Billick said. "Are you good for 30 snaps? We'll have to adjust. Obviously, late in the season, it's a factor." Fuller said the weather was an issue in how his leg felt. 

In a 9-6 road loss to the Miami Dolphins a week ago, Fuller said he played 58 of 72 snaps without incident. Fuller, 32, said he isn't concerned about whether he can maintain his level of play or recover quickly from the grind of the game. "After eight years of banging and wear and tear on the body, I can't worry about that," Fuller said. "I will have to reevaluate if I want to play a few more years definitely. I train hard, but my offseason has to get more intense if I want to play another year or two years." 

Secondary coach Donnie Henderson said he would have to consult with Fuller before making a determination on who would start Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. "We pride ourselves on our flexibility," Henderson said. "If Corey can't go, we'll put Baxter in there and not miss a beat." 

Meanwhile, Hasselbeck shredded the entire secondary for five touchdown passes for an opponent record. He finished 23 of 41 for 333 yards and no interceptions in achieving a 122.3 quarterback rating. Baltimore dropped from third in the league in pass defense to eighth overall. "We've got to get back on the horse," Henderson said. "Seattle didn't do anything we didn't think they would do. They made plays. The best thing is we get a chance to redeem ourselves." 

FIRST-HALF DISAPPROVAL: Billick declined to go into a dissertation on why he chose a running play before halftime rather than kneel down to run out the clock. "I lied," Billick said of his promise to discuss Xs and Os on Monday. Running back Chester Taylor fumbled away the Ravens' final snap of the first half, which led to a Seattle touchdown pass as Baltimore trailed 17-3 at halftime. "Given that first half, they probably should have booed," Billick said. "Obviously, as things changed and once a certain number of fans left, the booing stopped. Evidently, the boo-ers left and the diehards stayed." 

INJURY UPDATE: Defensive end Tony Weaver aggravated a stinger in his neck and was removed because the discomfort caused him to lose his normal strength levels, according to trainer Bill Tessendorf. "We're waiting for the muscles in his neck to calm down," Tessendorf said. "Right now, he's sore and tender." Cornerback Tom Knight underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam for a sprained foot and ankle and is in a walking boot. Tests were inconclusive for a broken bone, but a radiologist did detect a small line on X-rays.

 HASSELBECK COMPLAINS: When Hasselbeck was stuffed for no gain on a 4th-and-1 quarterback sneak in the fourth quarter, he said that was only the beginning of his pain  "One guy was grabbing me where the sun don't shine," Hasselbeck told Seattle reporters. "That was making me mad. Another guy started choking me. This is football and sometimes at the bottom of those piles some nasty stuff goes on. That's really part of the game unfortunately." Billick echoed a common sentiment in football that whatever the officials don't discover underneath the pile of bodies never happened. "You're kidding me," Billick said sarcastically. "I can't believe he would have a claim like that. I imagine Ray [Lewis] had similar comments on the bottom of that other pile." 

QUICK HITS: Billick awarded game balls to long snapper Joe Maese, punter Dave Zastudil and kicker Matt Stover, to quarterback Anthony Wright's wife, Nicole, and offensive tackle Orlando Brown. Brown helped tackle Hasselbeck on the 4th-and-1 play. … Lewis was credited with a game-high 14 tackles. … Besides the fumble, Taylor was hit with a personal foul and a holding penalty on Sunday.  

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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