Defense Shines Against Panthers


The Ravens suffered their first loss of the preseason Thursday night, but the defense could not have played much better.

The group stymied the Carolina Panthers and dynamic quarterback Cam Newton. The starters played the first two-and-a half quarters, and during that time the Panthers could hardly move the football.

With the starters in the game, the Ravens gave up only three points and just 68 yards of total offense.

"I thought they played well," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I thought we stopped the run; that was definitely a goal going in. We got good pressure on the quarterback throughout the game, got a lot of hits."

The Panthers came away with a 34-27 victory, but all four of their touchdowns came on returns by their defense or special teams. The offense scored just six points on the night.

"At the end of the day you want to win," safety Michael Huff said. "So we're definitely sad that we didn't get the win, but I think defensively we played well."

Improving up front was an emphasis this offseason, and that showed Thursday night.

The defense controlled the line of scrimmage, as the front seven consistently pushed its way into the backfield. Haloti Ngata, Chris Canty and Terrell Suggs overpowered the Panthers' line, stuffing the run game and also forcing Newton out of the pocket.

On one particular series in the first quarter, the Panthers were facing third-and-short, and the Ravens brought the big boys in the defensive line. Ngata, Marcus Spears, Arthur Jones and Terrence Cody all crowded the line of scrimmage, and Spears and Jones broke through the backfield to bring down running back DeAngelo Williams for no gain.

"On defense tonight, we definitely showed our personality against the run and the pass," Jones said.

During his three quarters of work, Newton struggled to find success against the Ravens. He completed 10-of-19 passes for 99 yards and no touchdowns. The former No. 1 overall pick is a dual-threat quarterback with big-play ability, but he had just 20 rushing yards and took three sacks.

The running lanes were also clogged, as the Panthers finished the game with just 75 total rushing yards. Improving against the run was a point of emphasis after last week against the Falcons, and the Ravens tightened up in that area.

"This game we really wanted to correct some issues we had last week, just as far as playing fundamental football and with proper technique," linebacker Daryl Smith said. "We came out, and I think for the most part we did that."

Through the preseason, the defense has been a bright spot for the Ravens. The group is looking to get back to becoming one of the top defenses in the league after finishing last year ranked 16th overall, and Thursday's game was a step in that direction.

"There's no place but to go up from last year," Jones said.  "I feel like we're just going to keep working hard and let the plays come to us."

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