Ravens Defense Looks to Ramp Up Pass Rush, Get Back to Causing Havoc


The Ravens defense couldn't have started any hotter this year.

In Week 1 in Cincinnati, the Ravens forced five turnovers and racked up five sacks in a 20-0 win. It was the first of Baltimore's three shutouts this season, and a launching pad for an already confident unit.

A lot of time has passed since then, but heading into a Week 17 rematch against the Bengals, the Ravens defense is looking to finish the same way it started.

"[We] set the standard for what we wanted our defense to become, and that's creating havoc, creating turnovers, setting up our offense," safety Eric Weddle said. "That's really carried us throughout this whole season."

The Ravens are still atop the league in takeaways (33) and tied for seventh in the league in sacks (40). Baltimore has allowed the fourth-fewest points in the league (18.1) and ninth-fewest yards (322.8).

Last week against Indianapolis, however, the Ravens got just two sacks, forced just two punts and dropped several opportunities for interceptions.

As Head Coach John Harbaugh said after the game, it wasn't the defense's strongest showing, but it got the job done when it mattered most with a clutch sack and fourth-down stop on the game-sealing drive.

But can the defense be the dominating, turnover-inducing unit going forward like fans saw in Week 1?

Asked if he likes how the defense is playing going into the regular-season finale, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said, "Yeah, but I'm really greedy."

"I have a little OCD," Suggs said. "I like to be perfect, but I also live in the real world. Yes, I love the way we're playing right now, but I think come Sunday, it's going to take a phenomenal Ravens defensive effort."

Sacks come in a variety of ways. They can be schemed up with different blitzes, they can be a player winning a one-on-one matchup or it can be excellent coverage making a quarterback hold onto the ball for too long.

Ravens Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees threw a barrage of different approaches at Indianapolis last week, but the Colts did a good job of blocking them up.

"Let's give Indy some credit," Pees said. "They weren't going to let us rush and they weren't going to let us pressure. If you really watch the film, they had usually seven guys in there blocking most of the time or chipping. Chuck [Pagano, former Ravens defensive coordinator] knows us."

Baltimore got good pressure on the Colts' final drive to win the game and sacked Brissett to bring on a fourth-and-10. That forced Indianapolis into a pass, which cornerback Maurice Canady broke up.

"The sacks will come," outside linebacker Matthew Judon said. "There were some things we could have done better in the rush against the Colts, but we're going to continue to go out there and rush."

So will the Ravens be able to replicate that Week 1 chaos? The Bengals are near the middle of the pack in sacks allowed (39) this season, but Dalton often tries to get the ball out of his hands quickly.

"They know we had five sacks, five turnovers," Judon said. "They have something to prove coming up here; division rivals and they didn't like what happened to them last time. Our defense is going to go out there and try to impose our will again."

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