NFL notes: Ex-Cats Matthews, Smith both make big plays in Ravens’ win over Steelers

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Za’Darius Smith (UK), right, tackled DeAngelo Williams by the hair for a 4-yard loss Sunday. The Ravens won 20-17.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Za’Darius Smith (UK), right, tackled DeAngelo Williams by the hair for a 4-yard loss Sunday. The Ravens won 20-17. Baltimore Ravens photo

Former University of Kentucky standouts Chris Matthews and Za’Darius Smith both made big plays in the Baltimore Ravens’ 20-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. The host Ravens swept the season series against their division rivals.

Matthews caught an 8-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone from Ryan Mallett, who was making his first start in place of injured Joe Flacco. It was Matthews’ first regular-season NFL score. His only other TD catch came in this year’s Super Bowl when he was with the Seattle Seahawks.

Matthews finished with three catches for 19 yards. He also made a tackle on special teams.

Smith, a rookie linebacker, was part of a Ravens defense that held the high-scoring Steelers in check for most of the game. He had four tackles, including a highlight-reel hair tackle of running back DeAngelo Williams for a four-yard loss.

“It’s not a dirty play,” Williams told PennLive.com. “The hair is part of the uniform, and because it’s part of the uniform it was a legit play and I told the guy when we got up I was like ‘Man, good tackle.’”

Smith sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the third time this season. He has five sacks overall, including two last week against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Steelers’ Chris Boswell squibbed a kickoff late in the first half and it went to Smith, who returned it 15 yards.

Rookie linebacker Bud Dupree, the Steelers’ first-round pick out of Kentucky, had one tackle.


▪  Bilal Powell (U of L) ran for 56 yards and had five catches for 34 yards in the Jets’ 26-20 overtime victory over the Patriots. Another former Cardinals standout, safety Calvin Pryor, had seven tackles in New York’s win.

▪  Former Christian County standout Keith Tandy, starting in place of injured safety Chris Conte, made 10 tackles, including one for a loss, in the Buccaneers’ 26-21 loss to the Bears.

▪  Jacob Tamme (Boyle County, UK) had four catches for 29 yards in the Falcons’ 20-13 victory over the previously unbeaten Panthers.

▪  Rookie receiver DeVante Parker (U of L) had four catches for 93 yards in the Dolphins’ 18-12 loss to the Colts. Jack Doyle (Western Kentucky) had two catches for seven yards for Indianapolis.

▪  Avery Williamson (UK) had seven tackles, and Wesley Woodyard (UK) added three in the Titans’ 34-6 loss to the Texans. Antonio Andrews (Western Kentucky) and Harry Douglas (U of L) both lost fumbles for Tennessee. Andrews’ was returned for a touchdown.

Douglas finished with six catches for a team-high 79 yards. Andrews didn’t get another carry after his fumble and finished with one yard on two attempts.

▪  Randall Cobb was limited to three catches for 15 yards in the Packers’ 38-8 loss to the Cardinals. The former UK wideout had one carry for two yards.

Green Bay punter Tim Masthay (Murray High School, UK) had a seven-yard run for a first down on a fake punt.

▪  Gary Barnidge (U of L) had three catches for 47 yards in the Browns’ 17-13 loss to the Chiefs.

▪  Preston Brown (U of L) made seven tackles in the Bills’ 16-6 victory against the Cowboys.

Dennis Varney: 859-231-3514, @ExCats