Ravens Defense Shows How To Finish Game


The stage and the storyline were familiar.

The Ravens needed their defense to come up with critical late-game stops to keep hopes alive of a close victory. The defense was in similar positions each of the last two weeks. 

But this time, the Ravens defense clamped down in the most critical situations and led the Ravens to a 23-20 overtime victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field.

"We've been in this situation a few times this year already, and the results didn't turn out the way we wanted them," veteran inside linebacker Daryl Smith said. "We had the opportunity again this game, and we went out there and did what we needed to do. That's what we want to do every time we go out there."

The Ravens shut out the Steelers in the fourth quarter and overtime, giving the offense multiple opportunities to tie the game and eventually win it.

The defensive effort was particularly impressive in overtime, when the Ravens came up with a pair of fourth-down stops with the Steelers in Baltimore territory. The Steelers needed to gain just 2 yards and 1 yard on the fourth-down attempts, but the defense didn't budge.

"That was time to just step up for the defense, and that's what we did," said cornerback Jimmy Smith, who broke up a pass for Antonio Brown on one of those fourth-down attempts. "We just showed up. It was backs to the wall, against a rival, and we showed up."

Even getting to overtime was an impressive feat for the Ravens. The Steelers had the football at Baltimore's 29-yard line with a 20-17 lead and just two minutes, four seconds left in the fourth quarter. The defense kept Pittsburgh from getting a game-sealing first down, and then Steelers kicker Josh Scobee missed a field goal.

A few plays later, kicker Justin Tucker sent the game to overtime.

"That's what they [the defensive players] said they wanted to do," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "They wanted to find a way to finish. That's the thing our guys did. Our defense, not just once, not just twice, not just three times, found a way."

Beyond the late-game stops, the defense kept an explosive Pittsburgh offense at bay all day. Brown came into the game as the NFL's second-leading receiver, but the Ravens limited him to five catches for 42 yards and no scores.

"The secondary unit, we were challenged," safety Will Hill said. "We felt that all those games we lost were on us. We had a great challenge with Antonio Brown out there and just to come out there and keep everything in front of us, and tackle, and help come up with the win."

The Ravens had a strong all-around effort from several players on defense. The secondary avoided the big plays and kept Brown at bay. The pass rush generated four sacks on Michael Vick.

And then when the Ravens needed the unit the most, the group played its best football of the night.

"Hopefully it's something we can build on," Daryl Smith said.

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