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Improving Tackling A Priority For Ravens

Posted Oct 16, 2012

Bernard Pollard blamed missed tackles in allowing consecutive 200-yard rushing games.

The Ravens are getting back to the basics this week.

After allowing back-to-back, 200-yard rushing games for the first time in franchise history, the defense is focused on the art of tackling this week.

"Tackling is something that we can improve on,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "We can improve by emphasizing it, and we’ll talk about some of the fundamental things.”

The Ravens had 14 missed tackles in Sunday’s win over the Cowboys, according to the statistical analysis website Pro Football Focus. They came into the game averaging five missed tackles per game.

The mistakes proved costly, as the Cowboys ran for 227 rushing yards, the most ever allowed in a game by a Ravens defense.

"We’re just making mistakes,” safety Bernard Pollard said. "It’s not about us being physical – we’re very physical. This is a physical football team. We’re going to go out there and fight with the best of them, but we can’t allow ourselves to wrap up guys in the backfield and let them out.”

One of the missed tackles allowed a Cowboys’ touchdown run, as Pollard took a bad angle to running back Felix Jones, who then stiff-armed Pollard to break away for the 22-yard score.

"I missed one, and it went for a touchdown,” Pollard said. "I pride myself on tackling, and I didn’t get it done.”

Part of the challenge with improving the tackling is that teams are limited in terms of how much physical contact they can have in practice. The Collective Bargaining Agreement puts restrictions on the number of padded practices – and teams are cautious to avoid practice injuries – so the players don’t get full tackling reps during the week. 

"There is only so much that you can do from a physical standpoint,” Harbaugh said. "There’s only so much banging that guys can take at this level. So, we’ve got to do it in other ways.”

Some of those other strategies include focusing on the angles the players are taking to the ball, looking at their technique to shed blockers and making sure that the players are working within the scheme of the defense.

"We can’t beat each other up in practice, so it’s a mental thing,” Pollard said.

And ultimately, it simply comes down to making the plays on Sunday.

"When you’re in the position to make the tackle,” Pollard said, "make the tackle.”

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