How To Slow Denver's Pass Rush


The lasting image from the Ravens' regular-season loss to the Broncos was quarterback Joe Flacco lying face down on the goal line after throwing an interception for a touchdown.

But Flacco spent a lot of time on his back too.

Denver sacked him three times and hit him nine times, which was a major reason why Baltimore's offense logged five straight three-and-outs to start the game.

The Broncos finished the regular season tied with St. Louis for the NFL lead in team sacks (52). Baltimore's ability to do a better job of slowing them down in the rematch will be pivotal in Saturday's  game.

A big part of the difference between the meeting three weeks ago and now is the big man at left tackle – Bryant McKinnie. And he has an idea.

"I just want to beat them up," McKinnie said. "Slow down that speed rush. That's what I would like to do."

By "beating up" the Broncos, McKinnie means running the ball a lot so that he can be the aggressor in blocking rather than backpedaling.

"It helps out a lot because it gives them less opportunity to rush," McKinnie said. "Then if you're able to keep colliding with them it slows them down as the game goes on."

The Broncos' two sack artists are second-year first-round pick Von Miller (18.5 sacks) and veteran Elvis Dumervil (11 sacks). Dumervil notched one sack against the Ravens in the regular-season meeting and each had two quarterback hits.

They're different types of rushers, McKinnie said.

"Dumervil is a little older, so he wants to collide," he said. "He's going to give you a collision first and then make a move off that. Von is going to dip under your arms, make you miss and stuff like that."

Miller is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate and more of a playmaker than Dumervil. He exploded onto the scene last year as a rookie and added to his game this season.

"Speed, power, quickness, finesse – he's got it all," Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell said. "He can run past you up the field. He's got enough power to lean and bore and drive the protector back into the quarterback. He can make you miss inside and out. … He's tremendous."

One way to neutralize Miller and Dumervil is to run at them.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens tried to do that in their last meeting, but on 17 rushes between Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, the Ravens averaged just 3.4 yards per carry. Rice had just 38 yards on 12 carries.

"We really wanted to run the ball, and they just did a great job – give them credit – they did a good job against us up front and we couldn't run the ball," Harbaugh said.

"So, you want to be able to run the ball. They would say that, most every team in the league would say that, and for us that's going to be a big part of our formula."

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