HOUSTON -- Sunday's game against the Texans was no longer merely the Baltimore Ravens' first game without Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb. Instead the morale of this team flipped as it was their first with reigning Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs.
Any emotional boost Suggs' return gave the Ravens didn't last long, however, as Houston routed the Ravens 43-13.
Suggs started the game and recorded a sack in the first quarter. He finished the game with three tackles.
Suggs' return was expected since it seemed unlikely coach John Harbaugh would cut another player to create a roster spot when he activated Suggs from the physically unable to perform list unless he planned for Suggs to make his debut, providing an emotional jolt to a Ravens team without Lewis and Webb, both injured last week.
But not everybody with the Ravens was convinced that Suggs should play just six months after surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. Safety Ed Reed told ESPN that he advised Suggs not to take an unnecessary risk because he feels the pressure to make up for the loss of the two defensive starters.
"If he plays, I'm happy. I don't want him to feel like he has to come back and play right now because we lost Ray and Lardarius. This is the NFL. Any given Sunday it can go either way," Reed said before the game. "Well, I take that back. If he's playing, he's definitely a force. But I just don't want to rush him, especially after the injuries. But if he does play, his presence will be felt."
Reed reminded Suggs that the Ravens were 5-1 entering the game and that they could afford to lose to the Texans but couldn't endure their best pass-rusher re-injuring himself because he prematurely returned.
"It's a long season after this, 10 games and a lot of football to be played. I'm not so concerned about this game," Reed said before the game. "Yeah, we want to win. We're prepared to win. We're going to go out there to win, but lets not set ourselves up to believe this is a game that will make or break us because it's not."
Reed said that Ravens are motivated to play long enough that Lewis has a chance to rejoin them for "the second season'' -- the playoffs.
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees said that in three practices, Suggs showed quickness but cautioned nobody truly knows how he might react to taking on blockers and having opponents around his legs and feet.
Pees said that he prepared a game plan for Sunday's game with Suggs and another without him.