While ball security is always important in the NFL, taking it away carries just as much weight.
The Ravens will look to do just that this weekend, when turnover-prone Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears come to Baltimore. It could be the key to success as the Ravens are 5-3 when winning the turnover battle and 2-3 in losses.
In a game of inches, an interception here, or a simple fumble can quickly alter a team's fortunes.
"Whether a team drives or not, you keep them out of the end zone, that's one thing," said linebacker Ray Lewis. "But, when you can have a team on the ropes and the game is very close, and then you can get a turnover real quick, the whole game changes.
"Most game plans, most offensive coordinators go away from their game plan when things like that happen. So, I just think that's always big."
The Ravens' defense has done its part recently, posting nine interceptions and two fumble recoveries over the past five games.
They will have a good opportunity to continue their thieving ways – at least in the interception category – with Cutler under center.
In his first season as a Bear, Cutler has thrown 22 interceptions to lead the NFL. While he is still considered one of the league's elite quarterbacks, Cutler's gunslinging occasionally gets him into trouble.
"We have to just play ball," said rookie cornerback Lardarius Webb. "He's a great quarterback. He just makes some mistakes every now and then. You can't take away from his talent. [He's] a great guy, a great quarterback, so we have to work hard this week and prepare for him."
Cutler is only part of the turnover story, though.
While the Ravens have been successful nabbing picks of late, head coach John Harbaugh would like to see an uptick in the amount of fumbles his team forces and recovers.
Baltimore has only forced nine fumbles this season, retaining six of them.
"We definitely want to get more fumbles," Harbaugh noted. "We haven't gotten as many fumbles or as many fumble recoveries as we want. We need to get the turnover numbers up."
The man to keep an eye on would be Bears running back Matt Forte, who has coughed up the football four times in 252 touches, losing two. With wintry conditions expected in Charm City, Forte could get the call often. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound back also typically requires more than just one defender to bring him down.
As such, the Ravens will be sure to rip at the ball when he does.
"He's got a lot of talent, and he's a big, explosive back," linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "We expect the best from him. Something we need to do as a team is get him down."
Still, a large part of the Bears' fortunes have rested on the arm of Cutler, who came over from the Denver Broncos with a fifth-round draft pick in a trade for Kyle Orton and three other selections.
The former Pro Bowler is certainly an accomplished passer, with 3,023 yards and 19 touchdowns to his credit. But Cutler's biggest knock – at least this year – is a tendency for interceptions.
The only three contests in which Cutler has been pick-free ended in Chicago (5-8) victories, so Baltimore hopes to rattle Cutler into making more mistakes on Sunday by applying a steady pass rush.
"Talent-wise, he's up there with anyone in the league," Johnson noted. "If you give him time and let him stand in there, he's going to make you look bad in a hurry. He's got all the weapons. At the same time, you can make him move around. He's a risk-taker. He's such a competitor, he's going to do some things to help this team out, and a lot of times that's been the wrong decision. We're going to do our best to not let him stand there and be comfortable. You have to force him to make bad decisions."
A risk-taker Cutler may be, but that doesn't mean he can't carve up a secondary, as well. As they prepare to face the talented, but unpredictable Cutler, the Ravens are not counting their picks just yet.
"The thing about Cutler is he'll look at a covered guy and believe he can make the throw, so you don't want to get caught up thinking you can bait him, because he has a strong enough arm to squeeze it in there," cornerback Domonique Foxworth said. "You have to expect on every play that no matter how well you have the guy covered, it's coming your way."
Whether the ball ends up in Foxworth's hands or not could be the tell-tale sign of Sunday's outcome.
"The margin between wins and losses in the National Football League, if you can with that turn [extra space}over battle, nine times out of 10 you're going to be successful," said Lewis