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Haloti Ngata NFL’s ‘Most Dominant’ Defender When Healthy

Posted Jan 26, 2013

The Pro Bowl defensive tackle has gotten healthy and stepped up his game in recent weeks.

Pernell McPhee was asked about Haloti Ngata Friday, and whether the Pro Bowl defensive tackle is one of the NFL’s most dominant players when he’s healthy.

After pausing for a second, McPhee squashed the basic notion of the question. 

“He’s not one of the most dominant when he’s healthy. He is the most dominant,” McPhee said passionately. “You feel me?

“If [Terrell] Suggs wouldn’t have won last year, I think Haloti probably would have won Defensive MVP. That guy is a force in the middle. When he’s healthy, he’s just a beast. Unstoppable.”

Ngata has played like one of the league’s most dominant defenders lately, anchoring the defensive line for a resurgent Ravens defense.  The group has come on strong in the postseason to help lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl, and getting Ngata healthy was a big reason for the run. 

“That’s what I’ve always wanted to be, just the most dominant defensive player,” he said. “But if it wasn’t going to help us win a Super Bowl then I wouldn’t have even cared about it.”

The 6-foot-4, 330-pound defensive tackle has 11 tackles, six quarterback pressures and one pass defensed in three postseason games. He’s gobbled up blockers to stuff the run and freed up linebackers to make the tackles.

“I’ll take two guys and do my part on my side,” Ngata said. “It helps them out, and also our linebackers to know that when I’m playing my type of game I’ll do my job all the time. It’s huge, and I think it just kind of trickles all the way to the back end.”

Ngata’s improved performance has coincided with getting healthy at the right time. The tale of his season has been battling through a slew of injuries, from his shoulder to knee, which limited his effectiveness in the middle of the year.

He played through the pain for the most part, but the injuries kept Ngata from playing the kind of football he and the Ravens are used to seeing from him.

“Not being able to do what you want. Not being able to play the game I want to play,” Ngata said when asked about the frustration of not playing at full strength. “It was great to be out there but it kind of took a longer time for me to heal and be back to where I wanted to be able to play. But when I was able to get back to the end of the season, I felt great and was moving around better and did things that I wanted to do. I think that was huge for our defensive line, especially.”

Ngata is now as healthy as he’s been since the start of the season, and he has two weeks to get his body ready for the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.

“We’ve played so well when we needed to play well, especially in these playoffs,” Ngata said. “Our defense had to go through some great quarterbacks and some great offenses, and for us to go through that run and our defense to be as good as it is now and as healthy as we are now, it just shows that we can do a lot of good things when we can be healthy.”

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