Notebook: Ivy gets final word

BALTIMORE -- Corey Ivy eventually delivered the final word in what initially appeared to be a losing argument. Thrust into a starting role for the first time in two years because starter Samari Rolle was sidelined with an undisclosed illness, the Baltimore Ravens' diminutive cornerback contributed a few key plays during a 26-23 victory Sunday over the Arizona Cardinals.

Although the Cardinals' potent, imposing receiving tandem of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald combined for 19 receptions and 266 yards and two touchdowns, Ivy came up big when it counted the most.

The 5-foot-9, 188-pound defensive back prevented Bryant Johnson from securing Kurt Warner's third-down fade pass into the end zone on the Cardinals' final, game-tying drive. Earlier, he had a critical fumble recovery and recorded the Ravens' lone sack.

"They came to me kind of late in the week and told me he was sick," Ivy said of Rolle, who didn't practice Thursday or Friday. "So whenever your number is called, you try to uphold the tradition of the Ravens' defense, go out there and play like a starter. They had confidence in me.

"My defensive backs coach, Dennis Thurman, came up to me before the game and told me he had all the confidence in the world in me. That gives me a sense that he has my back. We got a much-needed victory."

Ivy took the football away from the 6-3, 226-pound Fitzgerald while being run over on a 27-yard reception. That set up a 43-yard Matt Stover field goal in the third quarter.

"We work on fumble drills every day during practice," Ivy said. "He was carrying the ball kind of loose. I saw the opportunity, and I just snatched it from him."

Rolle was on the sidelines during the game, but wasn't available for comment afterward.

Ravens coach Brian Billick didn't elaborate on what was bothering Rolle, but indicated he should be available for next week's game against the Cleveland Browns.

"It was just something he had to deal with," Billick said. "It wasn't prudent to put him on the field, dehydration and all that medication stuff. We hope to have him back next week."

INJURY UPDATE: Tight end Todd Heap incurred what team officials described as a mild concussion on a fierce hit by Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson.

Heap expressed optimistic about his chances of playing next week even though a concussion typically keeps a player out for at least one game.

"I took a good shot, but I feel a lot better now," Heap said. "He gave me a good one and I felt it for a little while. I'm not real certain what happened after that, but I did kind of wake up enough to see that I did make that catch.

"I had a little tingling before, but that's all gone away now. The doctors checked me out and said I was good to go."

Ravens quarterback Steve McNair was replaced in the fourth quarter by backup Kyle Boller because of concerns about a nagging groin pull, but emphasized that he could have continued to play.

"I didn't want to put myself in harm's way," McNair said. "We weren't trying to go out there and aggravate it. They wanted me to rest it because we had a big lead. Now I can go into next week fresh and be ready to play."

When asked if he would definitely play next week, McNair replied: "Yes, of course." HURRICANE: Ravens running back Willis McGahee outdid fellow University of Miami football alum Edgerrin James.

McGahee rushed for 98 yards on 21 carries as Baltimore limited James, the NFC's leading rusher, to 57 yards on 10 carries. James gained 27 yards on one carry.

"I don't even look at it like that," McGahee said of a personal competition with James.

McGahee averaged 4.7 yards per carry, breaking several tackles. Plus, he had a 37-yard run in the first quarter that marks his longest gain since joining the team.

In three games, McGahee has rushed for 272 yards on 66 carries for a 4.1 average.

"You've got to get a lot of yards after contact," McGahee said. "That's what we stress: try to get three yards or better."

BACK IN STRIDE: Wide receiver Mark Clayton had been hampered by toe and ankle injuries during the first two games, but appeared to regain his old form Sunday.

He caught a season-high five passes for 34 yards. "It was great to see Clayton," said receiver Derrick Mason, who caught eight passes or 79 yards. "Now, we're at full strength."

Clayton said he didn't feel any lingering effects from his injuries.

"I was able to cut and run my routes the way I wanted to," Clayton said. "I think I was close to getting free a couple of times."

QUIET DEBUT: Dwan Edwards started in place of injured defensive end Trevor Pryce, but didn't register a tackle.

"I feel I did well when I was in there," Edwards said. "I feel like I did my responsibilities even through it wasn't a big stat game."

Meanwhile, rookie outside linebacker Antwan Barnes hit the quarterback once while operating as the situational pass rusher. He drew a key holding penalty late in the game.

"Overall, I did pretty good," Barnes said. "There were a couple of questionable holding calls that they didn't call."

MILESTONE: It was a momentous game for kicker Matt Stover.

Stover, 39, hit the 13th game-winning kick of his career. With four field goals and two extra points, he also passed Norm Johnson to rank fifth on the NFL's all-time scoring list with 1,745 career points.

Stover has made 416 career field goals, third-most in league history.

"It means I'm old," Stover said. "I've been kicking a long time. I still want the ball, I still want that kick.

"Once that leaves you, you need to get out of the game. When you see the smiles on the faces in that other room, that's fun."

ON THE SPOT: Rookie return specialist Yamon Figurs' 75-yard punt return for a touchdown was the seventh longest in franchise history. Figurs has replaced B.J. Sams, who's out for the year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

"The guys told me you've just got to keep ready because anything can happen," Figurs said. "It's part of pro football. People get hurt, people go down and you've just got to step up."

QUICK HITS: The Ravens deactivated offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (turf toe), Rolle (illness), Pryce (broken wrist), tight end Daniel Wilcox (sprained ankle), kicker Rhys Lloyd, quarterback Troy Smith and running backs Mike Anderson and Cory Ross. … Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett took exception with a debatable personal foul called on Wilson. "I had a real good view, and I don't want to say what I'm thinking," Dockett said. "The coaches wouldn't like that. All I can say is Adrian did what he's supposed to do and I'll leave it at that. … Cardinals wide receiver Sean Morey partially blocked Sam Koch's 11-yard punt in the fourth quarter. … For the second consecutive time this year, McNair lost a fumble. He was stripped by Dockett on a sack with Bert Berry's recovery leading to Neil Rackers' 40-yard field goal. … Baltimore has won its past seven home games, including 27 of its past 32. … The Ravens improved to 3-1 against the Cardinals. … Baltimore is 15-5-1 at home against NFC opponents. … The Ravens are now 50-1 under Billick when leading by at least 14 points. ... Mason has caught 23 passes for 209 yards and a 9.1 average.

5 REASONS FOR THE OUTCOME

1. For the second week in a row, the Baltimore Ravens survived a dramatic comeback attempt. This time, the Ravens (2-1) managed to hold on for a 26-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Matt Stover's 46-yard game-winning field goal as time expired Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. Despite veteran Cardinals backup Kurt Warner rallying the Cardinals to a tie with 1:50 remaining from a 20-3 halftime deficit and trailing 23-6 entering the fourth quarter, Ravens backup quarterback Kyle Boller got Baltimore in scoring position by going 5-for-5 for 32 yards on the decisive drive. It was Stover's 13th career game-winning field goal as he moved into fifth place on the league's all-time scoring list.

2. Baltimore benefited heavily from a debatable personal foul on safety Adrian Wilson, who appeared to hammer Ravens tight end Todd Heap during the game-winning drive. Referee Jerome Boger determined that it was an illegal forearm delivered to Heap's helmet, according to a pool report. Heap staggered off the field with a mild concussion.

3. The Ravens withstood a 36-year-old Warner, who replaced an ineffective Matt Leinart, going 15 for 20 for 258 yards and two touchdowns. Even though Anquan Boldin registered a career-high 14 catches for 181 yards, picking regularly on cornerbacks Ronnie Prude and Corey Ivy, who started for ill starter Samari Rolle, the Ravens got a stop at the end. Ivy covered Bryant Johnson successfully on a third-down fade pass into the end zone prior to Neil Rackers' game-tying, 41-yard field goal.

4. Boller completed 8 of 10 passes for 83 yards in relief of starter Steve McNair, who left the game after three quarters as a precautionary measure because Ravens coach Brian Billick was concerned that McNair might aggravate his groin poll.

5. Although the Ravens clearly won the running game battle as Willis McGahee gained 98 yards on 21 carries with Cardinals runner Edgerrin James rushing for 57 yards on 10 carries, they were ineffective in the red zone with a 1-for-3 conversion rate.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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