Stover's late FG moves Ravens past Titans and into AFC title game
Late in the third quarter, Baltimore forced a punt from Tennessee and Jim Leonhard returned it 29 yards to give the Ravens the ball at the Tennessee 41.
Divisional Playoff report card: Ravens-Titans
Adam Duerson > INSIDE THE NFL
Defensive Backs: If the Ravens had lost this game, Fabian Washington would have been the goat. He got beat badly on a long pass to Justin Gage in the first quarter and then whiffed on Chris Johnson on the Titans' first score; that whole drive was his bad. Throughout the game, he got absolutely worked over by Gage (six catches for 95 yards in first half alone) who's far from a Pro Bowl receiver.
Strong safety Jim Leonhard was far better. He fought through the block of Jake Scott, a lineman twice his size, early on to break up a tight end screen to Bo Scaife. Then he had two productive blitzes that forced bad passes by Collins, one of which was intercepted. He also recovered LenDale White's fumble at the end of the first quarter and played the low to Bart Scott's high on a high-low tackle that forced Alge Crumpler's crucial fourth quarter fumble near the goal line. Funny thing. I don't recall hearing Ed Reed's name almost all game long. Grade: Safeties A-; Corners C
Special Teams: Sam Koch put the Titans in a pinch early on with a second quarter punt that was downed on the one after bouncing an inch from the goal line. Leonhard's 29-yard third-quarter punt return to the Tennessee 41 made up for some offensive deficiencies and set the Ravens up for a go-ahead field goal. Matt Stover was reliable, going 2-for-2, including the 43-yard game-winner. Grade: A-
An Ode to Jim Leonhard
January 11, 2009
When you play on the Ravens defense, it’s easy to get overlooked. But, Jim Leonhard has been overlooked before. I have had the privilage of watching Leonhard play safety since his days at University of Wisconsin when he was a walk on. Back then, Leonhard was breaking up passes, intercepting balls, and making open field tackles until he finally earned a scholarship. Now, after 4 years in the NFL, Leonhard is playing for one of the best defenses in the NFL and playing well.
Ravens win slugfest with Titans
Posted by The Associated Press January 10, 2009 21:31PM
Bironas missed a 51-yard field goal midway in the third period despite having the wind at his back, adding to Tennessee's litany of blunders. And when Jim Leonhard returned a punt 29 yards to the Titans 41, Baltimore finally had good field position.
George: Ravens’ defense imposes its will
Finally, early in the fourth quarter, Titans tight end Alge Crumpler fumbled the ball at the Ravens’ 6 after being pummeled by Baltimore safety Jim Leonhard. The Ravens recovered at the 1, halting the Titans’ touchdown try.
Ravens Get Out of Tennessee Alive
Titans' Missed Opportunities Help Baltimore Advance: Ravens 13, Titans 10
By Les Carpenter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 11, 2009; Page D01
Then came a fourth-quarter pass to tight end Alge Crumpler, who caught the ball on the Ravens 6-yard line, only to fumble when hit by Baltimore safety Jim Leonhard.
"I think, in the end, our guys found a way to win," Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said.
Ravens Upend Titans
By IRA KAUFMAN | The Tampa Tribune
Published: January 11, 2009
Late in the opening half, LenDale White's fumble at the Baltimore 15 was recovered by strong safety Jim Leonhard, who plays in Reed's immense shadow.
Leonhard's 29-yard punt return led to Stover's 21-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, snapping a 7-7 deadlock. On Tennessee's ensuing possession, Leonhard's hit on tight end Alge Crumpler forced a fumble recovered at Baltimore's 1-yard line.
"They got the best of us early in the game, but we ended up with those three takeaways near our own goal line," Leonhard said. "I'm sure the Titans will be kicking themselves for a long time."
Tennessee tumbles — again
Mistakes prove costly to Titans as Baltimore pulls off upset
By JOHN MCCLAIN Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle
Crumpler’s fumble was a deal-breaker for the Titans. On second down at the Baltimore 13, Collins threw a short pass to Crumpler, who gained seven yards before he was hit by safety Jim Leonhard. The ball popped out, and cornerback Fabian Washington recovered at the 1.
Ravens notebook: Special game for Stover
By Aaron Wilson and Rich Dubroff, Times Staff Writers
Strong safety Jim Leonhard suffered a concussion toward the end of the game on his big hit on tight end Alge Crumpler and didn’t return. Afterward, Leonhard spoke coherently.
Trend-Spotting in the N.F.L. Playoffs: Divisional Round
By Naila-Jean Meyers
A look at some of the story lines to come out of Saturday’s divisional playoff games:
1. Anyone can be a star on the Ravens’ defense. For all the talk about Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, the name heard again and again Saturday during the Ravens-Titans game was Jim Leonhard’s. The Ravens’ “other” starting safety, Leonhard recovered LenDale White’s fumble at the Baltimore 15 right before halftime, helping keep it a 7-7 tie. Late in the third quarter, he gave the Ravens great field position with a 29-yard punt return. With the Baltimore offense sputtering all day, starting at the Tennessee 41 sparked a drive to a field goal for a 10-7 lead. Then on the Titans’ ensuing drive, Leonhard forced and recovered Alge Crumpler’s fumble near the goal line. Leonhard, who is in his first season with Baltimore, has made a career out of being overlooked. He was a walk-on at Wisconsin, but became a three-year starter, tied the school record for career interceptions and finished as the Big Ten career leader in punt return yards. He was undrafted in 2005, but by 2007 he was starting for the Bills.
Ravens kick down the door to AFC title game
By AARON WILSON, Landmark News Service
Published January 11, 2009
The Ravens won despite being outgained 391-211 in total offense and had a dozen fewer first downs. Strong safety Jim Leonhard's huge hit on tight end Alge Crumpler when the Titans threatened to score in the fourth quarter made Crumpler cough up the ball with cornerback Fabian Washington recovering at the Ravens' 1-yard line.
"We knew what kind of men we had on our football team: warriors, mighty men, all those things that you guys chuckle about," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Those things are all true. That was a knockdown, drag-out battle. “At the end, our guys found a way to win. Like they won the first game, we found a way to win the second game."
Leonhard's big hit, which combined with Scott on the tackle, allowed the Ravens to preserve a 10-7 lead a few drives prior to Titans kicker Rob Bironas' game-tying 27-yard field goal that preceded Stover putting the game away for good.
"We gave up some yards and some big plays, but we did whatever we had to do," Leonhard said. "We feel like this wasn't our goal just to win this game. Our goal was to go to the Super Bowl and win it. This is a stepping stone to get there."
Playoff Report Card: Ravens 13, Titans 10
Tom Zbikowski is looking like a better and better pickup each day, and what can you say about Jim Leonhard? He doesn’t have the measurables that leap out at you, but there’s no arguing with his production. He’s smart, catches the ball, and makes plays. The most underrated offseason pickup in the NFL this year.
Ravens-Titans: Position Comparison
Br-ravens1_tiny by Rexx on Jan 9, 2009 10:07 AM EST
S: This might be the biggest bone of contention with the fans of both teams. The Titans' Chris Hope and Michael Griffin have played extrememly solid, with 11 interceptions between them. They are fast, smart and hit hard. Together, they are as talented a pair as any in the league. However, the Ravens have Ed Reed and that pretty much ends the comparison right there. Ed has as many picks as the Titans pair combined and is a game changing player as well as a threat to score every game. Jim Leonhard has played brilliantly in place of the injured Dawan Landry, as a solid tackler and versatile addition as the primary punt returner as well. Regardless of the Titans joint success, I have to show my true colors, and go with the purple. Advantage: Ravens