DAVID GINSBURG, AP Sports Writer
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Playing for the first time since early October, Elvis Dumervil proved to be a difference-maker for the Baltimore Ravens in a 19-14 win over Cincinnati on Sunday.
Dumervil recovered a second-quarter fumble, and his sack of Andy Dalton resulted in a late fumble that sealed the victory for first-place Baltimore (6-5).
“I said I’d be happy to see him out there making plays,” coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday, “and right on cue he did it.”
A five-time Pro Bowl linebacker, Dumervil has been slow to recover from offseason foot surgery. Playing in only his third game of the season, he showed no sign of injury on the field against the Bengals.
Later, however, Dumervil felt the pain.
“It was hard walking up the stairs with my baby girl after the game,” he confessed. “That was pretty difficult.”
Difficult is a good word to describe this season for Dumervil, a standout pass rusher who set a Ravens record in 2014 with 17 sacks. A two-time Associated Press All-Pro, Dumervil has 97 sacks since entering the league in 2006.
This marks the first time since 2010 that Dumervil, 32, hasn’t played at least 14 games. After undergoing surgery on his foot over the summer, he fully expected to be ready for the season opener.
He missed three games before getting his first action on Oct. 2. Dumervil played the following week, too, but didn’t have a single tackle in either game.
“The first time around, the strength wasn’t there,” he said. “So we went back to the drawing board and were able to come up with a game plan. Give credit to the training staff and the weight room guys.”
Five weeks of treatment, lifting and angst culminated with a performance last week that essentially served as his season opener.
“I’ve still got to get back in football shape in a sense,” Dumervil acknowledged. “There’s a lot I can work on to get better at. But I am a little fresher, I’ll say that.”
The return of Dumervil gives Baltimore a solid pass rush on both sides of the line. Terrell Suggs and Dumervil teamed for 29 sacks in 2014, and on Sunday they accounted for all three of the Ravens’ sacks.
“He adds to our arsenal. You definitely want a guy like Dumervil back on the field,” Suggs said. “We love having him back.”
It’s been an uphill climb for Dumervil, whose only previous brush with a serious injury came in 2010, when he tore his pectoral muscle in August and was placed on injured reserve. Although the foot injury lingered far longer than expected, Dumervil always expected to return.
“As a competitor and a winner, sometimes you think you’re invincible. And then you get humbled,” he said. “I can’t control things I can’t control. What I could control is going out and doing my rehab, eating right, working out and doing the things necessary to be a pro. That’s what I’ve done.”
Dumervil and the Ravens on Sunday face the streaking Miami Dolphins, who have won six straight . In five games against Miami, Dumervil has 13 tackles, 4½ sacks and a forced fumble.
“For the most part my body is on track,” Dumervil said. “But there’s still a lot of work to get done, and I’m excited for the challenge.”
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