Eric Weddle Leading the Way on Baltimore's Turnover-Happy Defense

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When the Ravens brought safety Eric Weddle to Baltimore last year, they had visions of how he could help transform the secondary into a ball-hawking unit.

The Ravens were coming off a 2015 season where they forced a franchise-low six interceptions, and finding ways to generate turnovers was an organization-wide priority.

Weddle has done exactly what the Ravens hoped, and he's led the way for the defense to become the NFL's most turnover-happy unit of the last two years.

"We have to play it's now or never, that this play could be the difference from winning and losing," Weddle said after Sunday's 44-20 victory over the Detroit Lions. "You all take that approach."

Weddle has played 28 games in his time with the Ravens, and he's forced 12 turnovers over that stretch (nine interceptions, three forced fumbles).

Sunday's win over Detroit may have been the best example of his game-changing versality. He made a critical strip-sack on quarterback Matthew Stafford in the second quarter that set up a touchdown, and then he sealed the game with a pick-six late in the fourth quarter.

He also nearly hauled in an interception in the back of the end zone and was in perfect position to pick off a pass that rookie Marlon Humphrey ended up intercepting. Head Coach John Harbaugh rewarded Weddle with a game ball after the win.

"We played well in the secondary," Weddle said. "We've never strayed away from the confidence, and what we are. We just had to get back to playing our style of ball. Be aggressive, play fundamentals, trust that your team's going to be there. When the ball's in the air, we've got to go make it."

Weddle, 32, leads the Ravens with five interceptions this season. The 11-year veteran is having one of the best statistical seasons in his career, and he's deserving of receiving his fifth Pro Bowl invitation.

He sets the tone for the back end of the defense, and Baltimore's 20 interceptions lead the league this season. The turnovers are a big reason the defense has kept the Ravens in so many tight games this year, and the group has been the foundation of the team's 7-5 start.

Even in a game like Sunday where the Lions moved the football and put up points, Baltimore still came up with a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions that ended Detroit's comeback hopes. Weddle and the Ravens defense know they will have to finish the year strong to get back to the postseason, and that's exactly the kind of opportunity that Weddle wanted when he signed with Baltimore. 

"I don't think the pressure brings us down," Weddle said. "I think the pressure raises us up. Yeah, it's winning time, let's go get it. Let's go get the ball. When you have everyone really honed in and thinking like that, great things can happen."

Check out the best photos from M&T Bank Stadium as the Ravens battle the Lions in week 13!

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