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Ravens Defense Dominates In Front Of Rex Ryan


It's been more than five years since Rex Ryan left Baltimore.

That doesn't matter to outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.

"I feel like we were dialed in as a defense today," Suggs said. "There's always a little something added when we're playing Rex."

Suggs is one of just two starting Baltimore defensive players that played under Ryan (along with Haloti Ngata). But the Ravens know what Ryan and the Jets stand for.

They wanted to prove that defense is made in Baltimore.

"We wanted to be the better defense on the field," cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "We respect Rex, we know he's a great coach. But in the end,* *we just felt like let's win a game just for the defense, for us. Not nobody else, just defense let's go out and try to win a game on our own."

New York's defense came into Sunday's game generating the headlines. It has the top-ranked run unit in the NFL. It has a stout defensive line led by breakout defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson. It added former Ravens safety Ed Reed.

The Ravens defense knew all that. It also knew that with cold weather and windy conditions at M&T Bank Stadium, it could be a low-scoring affair.

"We knew that we had to out-play their defense, and that's what we were able to do today," cornerback Corey Graham said. "We knew they've got a pretty good front seven, and they play good ball. But when it came down to it, we wanted to be a dominant defense."

The only positive facet of the Jets' game was their use of the wildcat, and even that got shut down quickly. The Jets moved down the field on their second drive of the game thanks to a couple of runs and even one pass by wide receiver/returner Josh Cribbs to quarterback Geno Smith.

Baltimore's red-zone defense, which ranks tops in the league, did its thing again, holding the Jets out of the end zone and forcing them to settle for a 27-yard field goal.

"You can only do that [trickery] for so long. You eventually have to line up and play football," safety James Ihedigbo said.

Once the Ravens shut down the trickery, the Jets hardly moved the ball with rookie Smith under center.

Baltimore got consistent pressure on Smith, sacking him three times (Daryl Smith, Pernell McPhee and Elvis Dumervil). They were frequently in his face, forcing him to move, yet kept him from running for gains.

Smith was just 2-for-6 for 21 yards at halftime. He finished 9-for-22 for 127 yards and two interceptions.

The Jets, who came in with the NFL's eighth-ranked rushing attack (129.5 yards per game), didn't have much success on the ground. Bilal Powell ran 11 times for 41 yards and Chris Ivory had nine carries for 35 yards. Baltimore was boosted by the return of Ngata (knee).

The Ravens were also optimistic. Suggs pounced on a fumble when the snap bounced off wide receiver Greg Salas' leg. Once the Jets had to air it out, the secondary did the rest and fed off the pressure up front.

Graham came up with two interceptions for just the second time in his career. He made a nice play going up high on a deep ball down the sideline in the third quarter, then essentially sealed the game by jumping underneath another long pass to the end zone in the fourth quarter.

"What can you say about the defense?" Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "It was a dominant defensive performance. All three levels played exceptionally well."

The Ravens offense moved the ball well at times, and at last hit on a long touchdown to receiver Jacoby Jones that blew the game open.

But with temperatures dropping and the offense still having trouble* *at times, the Ravens defense knew that if Baltimore is going to make a sixth-straight playoff run, it might need to be the leader. 

The revamped defense is rounding into form. It has allowed just 11 touchdowns in the past 10 games and in seven games this season, the defense has allowed just one or no touchdowns.

"We always say it's our show," Ihedigbo said. "That's how we look at it – not with arrogance, but with a confidence. Knowing the type of players we have on that field defensively and playing together, let's go with that mindset and take over.

"Baltimore's been built on defense. We know how we have to play to win. We have to dominate and take over games and let our offense have great field position and score. That's the formula for winning this season – it is. We have great performances we win, hands down. So we have to keep doing it."

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