Notebook: McGahee has sore ribs

OWINGS MILLS -- There are still remnants of blood in Willis McGahee's left eye, but that's no longer the problem that's bothering the Baltimore Ravens' running back. McGahee suffered a rib injury during a 23-20 overtime loss Monday night to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and is the only major injury concern for the team.

McGahee was limited to just one yard on his only second-half carry after injuring his ribs when a Steelers defender hit him during the final minutes of the first half. Although his status for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans hasn't been defined, X-rays didn't reveal any broken bones.

"He's got a rib issue," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday. "We think he's going to be OK. We'll just have to see how the rib goes this week, but, other than that, we have nothing serious."

McGahee rushed for 41 yards on 12 carries in the first half, leaving the game in obvious pain while being assisted off the field by head trainer Bill Tessendorf.

He played in the Ravens' second series of the second half, but left the game after a run up the middle.

"He was in pain," Harbaugh said. "He wanted to play."

The Ravens' leading rusher last season with 1,207 yards and seven touchdowns, McGahee said Monday night that he anticipates being ready for the 4-0 Titans, who lead the AFC South.

"I've got a little injury, but I'll be all right," McGahee said. "I took a helmet right on the side. It was real aggravating. From here on out, I'm getting ready for Tennessee."

McGahee was poked in his left eye and suffered a laceration on his right eyelid in a 28-10 win over the Cleveland Browns, but the swelling has gone down. He said his eye injuries are no longer a factor.

"It looks bad," he said, "but it's not bothering me."

FLACCO ON PACE: Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco made a successful road debut against the Steelers and displayed poise and arm strength, throwing his first NFL touchdown pass.

He nearly outdueled Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, completing 16 of 31 passes for 192 yards and no interceptions while being sacked five times.

"I think the performance speaks for itself," Harbaugh said. "He'll get better throughout his whole career, but he'll make big jumps now in his rookie year. He controlled himself and his handling of the offense, defense, managing the game himself."

Flacco also recovered from losing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown when he was hit from behind by outside linebacker James Harrison.

"I understand I've got to protect the ball," Flacco said. "It's a big part of the game, but I was OK going back onto the field. I had to be."

Flacco led the Ravens on a nine-play, 76-yard drive in the fourth quarter that was capped by fullback Le'Ron McClain's two-yard run to tie the game. Down by a touchdown, Flacco connected with wide receiver Derrick Mason to convert a key third down as they hooked up three times for 60 yards on the Ravens' final scoring drive.

"He pulled a rabbit out of his hat," said Mason, who caught eight passes for 137 yards. "He didn't get rattled. He showed poise out there. That's all you can ask a young quarterback to do is show poise amidst a lot of confusion.

"In that second half, they were throwing a lot of stuff at him. Through it all, he showed the poise of a veteran quarterback."

Besides Flacco's four-yard touchdown pass to tight end Daniel Wilcox in the corner of the end zone in the first half, the first-round draft pick's most impressive play may have come in the third quarter. He avoided the pass rush and scrambled to his left away from three Steelers, then reversed field to his right before drilling a 26-yarder to Mason.

A raucous crowd didn't seem to affect Flacco, who attended the University of Pittsburgh as a freshman and a sophomore before transferring to Delaware.

"It was pretty crazy," Flacco said. "It was fun to go out there and deal with all of the boos and everything. It was an exciting game. Obviously, we came up on the short end, but we played hard and we can't be ashamed of that."

QUICK HITS: Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata intercepted his second NFL pass when the ball slipped out of Roethlisberger's grasp while looking for tight end Heath Miller. Unlike Ngata's 60-yard return against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during his rookie season two years ago, the 6-foot-4, 350-pounder just had a one-yard return. "I wasn't really expecting that play to come," Ngata said. "The ball just came in front of me. I think he didn't have a good hold of the ball because it came at me kind of wobbly. I'm happy that I caught it at least. It was pretty awesome. I just didn't get the yards." ... Despite McGahee's injury, rookie running back Ray Rice had just one carry for no yards as his workload has been shrinking lately. ... The Ravens were held to a season-low 103 yards on 33 carries. ... Wilcox's touchdown marks his first catch of the season. "If we could have capped it with a victory, it would have made the touchdown that much more special to me," Wilcox said. ... Former Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap didn't catch a pass as he was heavily involved in unsuccessfully trying to block Harrison. For the season, he has just three catches for 27 yards.

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


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