Lost amid the carnage of Joe Flacco's season-ending injury news on Sunday -- which itself overshadowed the otherwise huge news of Justin Forsett's season-ending injury, linebacker Courtney Upshaw delivered perhaps his best game and biggest play of the 2015 season on Sunday.
Upshaw's strip-sack in the final minute on Sunday -- his first sack in two years -- set up the Ravens for their game-winning field goal in their 16-13 win over the Rams. He also had a huge part in containing Rams rookie phenom Todd Gurley, who labored for every one of his 66 rushing yards on 25 carries.
"Here’s a guy that has been competing like crazy, been listening to all of your criticism from time to time – not everybody, just a couple – and doesn’t let it get to him because he knows how hard he works," coach John Harbaugh said after the game. "He knows what kind of player he is, and to see it pay off for him in a moment like this is just incredibly rewarding for him."
Upshaw has always been known as edge-setting, run-stuffing linebacker, but he has struggled to get to the quarterback, something he's been asked to do much more with Terrell Suggs sidelined for the season.
Upshaw, who has not missed a game in his career, has 31 tackles and three pass breakups this season. Before this season, he had primarily been a first- and second-down linebacker, giving way to Elvis Dumervil in passing situations. He came into the Rams game with three career sacks, none this year.
"It actually feels great to get the first one in that fashion, too," Upshaw said after the game. "At the end of the day, we want to win the game. We had to make a play. Somebody had to make a play, and I’m just glad I made it.”
This is a huge year for Upshaw, who is set to hit free agency next spring. Rush linebackers generally draw the big-money deals, but Upshaw probably never will be that 12-sack, Suggs prototype. Still, showing the ability to rush the passer and wreak havoc will help the Ravens in the short term and Upshaw in the long term.
"We work at it every week," Upshaw said after Sunday's game. "It’s on me to go out there and make things happen."