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Paul Kruger's Hot Play Continues


Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs all took the field together Sunday for the first time this season.

Finally, the Ravens had all their defensive stars back in uniform. But it was a different player leading the charge for the Ravens defense in Sunday's 24-9 victory over the Colts.

Fourth-year linebacker Paul Kruger was the most dominant defensive player in the game, as he carried the Ravens' pass rush and was in pursuit of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck nearly the entire game.

"He played lights out man," linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. "I had a feeling he was going to have a good game, just because Kruger has been hot all year. I knew he was going to turn it up in the playoffs."

Kruger finished the day with a game-high 2.5 sacks, five quarterback hits, one forced fumble, one pass deflection and one tackle for loss.

"He played tremendously well," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Paul is having a great year."

Kruger's big game was a continuation of what has been a career season for the fourth-year outside linebacker.

He is a free agent at the end of the season and he's had a big season at the right time. This year has been the first opportunity for him to move into a starting role, and he responded by leading the Ravens with nine sacks during the regular season and then stepping up again Sunday.

"That dude is making money, man," safety Bernard Pollard said. "He is a player. Juiced up Jesus. That guy is playing ball. Kruger is setting things up and I'm so proud of him. To come in and help his team out has truly been phenomenal."

While free agency is looming, Kruger isn't thinking about what the offseason could hold for him.

"All I want to do is be a Raven," Kruger said. "That's all I'm thinking about. Just going into this week, it was so big. I know it sounds cliché, but that's really all that I'm thinking about right now."

Kruger lined up all over the field, moving to both sides of the line and even dropping in coverage in some instances. He spent most of the game getting to Luck in the backfield, as he worked his way past the Colts' offensive tackles with both speed and power moves.

One of Kruger's biggest plays of the game came on the Colts' second drive. The Colts moved into Ravens' territory after a Ray Rice fumble and made their way into field goal territory. On third down, Kruger came off the edge and was able to get a hand on the football to knock it out of Luck's hands. Defensive end Pernell McPhee then jumped on the football to give the Ravens possession.

Kruger also came up with a sack on a third-down play during the Colts' opening drive of the third quarter. He used speed to get around the end and bring Luck down for the sack, which forced a Colts punt and set up a Ravens touchdown.

Kruger credited his effort for his big day Sunday.

"Just playing full speed and playing within the defense and playing your heart out," Kruger said.

In addition to the big plays Kruger made, he also had a couple of occasions where he got to Luck in the backfield but wasn't able to bring him to the ground. If Luck hadn't escaped from Kruger on those plays, he may have ended up with four or five sacks on the day.

"You definitely think about those ones you missed," Kruger said. "There were probably a couple other sacks I should have had, but he's a big strong guy back there."

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