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Ravens Defense Shows Off 'Hard-Nosed, Juggernaut Football'

Posted Oct 29, 2017

The Ravens notched their second shutout of the season with a 40-0 victory over the Miami Dolphins, and the defense had an absolutely dominant performance.

Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi took his first carry of Thursday night’s game and bounced outside for a 21-yard gain against Baltimore’s defense.

The unit then immediately came together to set the tone for rest of the game.

“After that run, we got into the huddle and were like, ‘Hey, that’s not happening again,’” defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. “‘We have to stop this. This is not going to be the same old song. The Ravens defense is going to show up tonight and we’re going to do it the way we do it, how Baltimore does it – and that’s hard-nosed, juggernaut football.”

The message resonated.

Over the rest of the game, Ajayi notched just two yards on 12 carries. The Ravens held the Dolphins to 45 total rushing yards, no points and also registered a pair of pick-sixes en route to the 40-0 victory over Miami.  

Baltimore rediscovered the dominant defense it started the season with.

“We got back to Raven football,” outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said.

The defense had been under fire coming into Thursday’s game after allowing 400 combined rushing yards in losses to the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings over the previous two games. The bulk of those yards came against the Bears when the Ravens were without Williams and Carl Davis, but the Ravens didn’t use those injuries as an excuse.

Baltimore’s defense ranked last in the league against the run, and the defenders are a prideful bunch who were tired of hearing about their inability to stuff the ground game.

“That was a big topic,” inside linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “We’ve been in the top five since I’ve been here and way before I got here. Being [32nd] in the league for a Ravens running defense, that’s unheard of. [Thursday] was a good start.”

Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said heading into the game that his unit was “pressing” a bit too much to start the season, and just needed to “let it go” when they got on the field.

Head Coach John Harbaugh believes his players took the criticism to heart, and the performance showed their commitment to getting back on track.

“It’s really not what we’re about – giving up a bunch of yards in the running game,” Harbaugh said. “Sure, they took it personally, and I’m proud of the way they responded.”

Stopping the run was the big talking point, but Baltimore’s defense shut down Miami across the board. Quarterback Matt Moore completed 25-of-44 attempts for 176 yards, and he also had a pair of interceptions. Mosley and cornerback Jimmy Smith both picked off Moore and returned it for touchdowns.

The Dolphins had 14 drives and punted eight times, threw two interceptions and turned it over on downs twice. The Dolphins never came close to the end zone, and their best chance at putting points on the board with a 50-yard field-goal attempt that Cody Parkey missed wide right.

It was the second shutout of the season for the Ravens – they also shutout Cincinnati in Week 1 – which hasn’t happened in Baltimore since 2006.

“We just look at ourselves in the mirror, and we do as a team what we need to do to play better,” safety Eric Weddle said. “If we all play good as a defense, we have a good chance to win. If we don’t, it’s just reality that we won’t. But it was nice in a short week to get back to the fundamentals, the basics in playing team defense, and it really showed tonight.”

The dominant performance moved the Ravens to 4-4 on the season and back in the thick of the playoff race. The Ravens built this year’s team through the draft and free agency to have an imposing defense, and players were stressing the need to continue that kind of showing.

“We’ve just got to make sure we’ve got that same mentality for the rest of the way,” Mosley said.  “That’s our brand of football.”

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