How Will Ravens Attack Stellar Seahawks Defense?


The Ravens couldn't find a much tougher matchup than their banged-up offense against Seattle's red-hot defense.

Seattle ranks in the top five in the NFL in virtually every defensive category, and the Seahawks have held opponents to under 14 points in four of their last six games. The Ravens will have to face that unit without their starting quarterback, key players at every skill position, and a short-handed offensive line. 

So what is Baltimore's plan of action?

"You understand what you're going up against, but at the same time, you can't shy away from anything," quarterback Matt Schaub said. "You have to attack things, and you have to attack the game in situations and put trust in your teammates. We're all in this together, and we have to find a way to go make some plays to win a football game."

The biggest question for the Ravens entering the weekend is whether Schaub will even play. He's started the last two games after Joe Flacco's season-ending knee injury, but now he's nursing some injuries after he took a beating last week in Miami.

The Ravens have limited Schaub's reps in practice this week, and are getting recently-signed quarterback Jimmy Clausen ready in case he needs to start.

Whoever gets the start, they will go up against a passing defense that gives up an average of just 220.5 yards per game. When Clausen faced the Seahawks as the Bears quarterback earlier this year, he threw for just 63 passing yards and no touchdowns. 

"They challenge you on every layer of their defense – upfront, linebacker level and in the secondary," Schaub said. "You have to be on top of your reads, be on time. If your rhythm gets taken away – or your feet – you have to know where your checkdowns are and where those throws are, but you can't hold the football. You have to hit your back foot, make a decision – let it go or check it down. That's how you have to play against a team like this."

The skill players will also have their share of challenges finding ways to move the ball. The young receiving corps is up against a secondary nicknamed the "Legion of Boom," and cornerback Richard Sherman might be the best in the league at his position.

"It's a challenge to our [wide receivers] room," top receiver Kamar Aiken said. "We're looking forward to the challenge. Anytime you go against one of the top guys, you're always looking forward to it to see where you're at as a player, as an individual."

Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman has spent this week working to find ways to exploit a defense that has playmakers at seemingly every position. Seattle has premier defensive linemen in Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Frank Clark, and they have the ability to shut teams down on the ground.

With a talented front and a top-flight secondary, Trestman knows he'll have to be creative in building and executing the game plan Sunday.

"We have a menu of things that attack their defense and what they do," Trestman said. "They're not a sophisticated defense in terms of the volume of things they do, but they certainly are exceptional at the things they do well. They have a talented team, obviously. We all know that. They have great structure. They have great ways of getting to different things and allowing their guys to play fast."

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