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Ravens Defense Wants To End On A High Note After Recent Struggles


Eric Weddle said he'll remember Antonio Brown's goal-line stretch for the rest of his life.

The Ravens safety and Steelers wide receiver clashed just outside the goal line at the end of the decisive rivalry game on Christmas, and Weddle couldn't drive Brown back quick enough.

"You will never let it go, but it will drive you, and hopefully make you better," Weddle said.

That starts this week, as Weddle and the Ravens defense look to shake off the sting of the Steelers game and Brown's touchdown to finish strong in Cincinnati.

"We are going to try our best to go out and play exceptional, and first of all, win the game, and second of all, have a great defensive effort," Weddle said.

Baltimore's defense was ranked No. 1 in the league less than a month ago heading into a Monday Night Football showdown in New England. The unit was carrying the Ravens for much of the season, and was historically good at stuffing the run.

That has changed over the last three games.

New England running back LeGarrette Blount rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Tom Brady threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns, including a game-winning 79-yard touchdown with six minutes, 18 seconds left.

Eagles running back Ryan Mathews rumbled for 128 yards and a touchdown and the defense nearly gave up a 10-point lead in the final minutes. A pass breakup on a game-deciding two-point conversion avoided a loss.

Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell ripped off 122 rushing yards and a score and the Steelers drove 75 yards to score the game-winning touchdown with nine seconds left.

"We have struggled over the last few weeks," Weddle bluntly said.

"I'm still a little disappointed," safety Lardarius Webb added. "We have to move on. We want to finish the season out strong, and we have to go to Cincinnati to do it."

Weddle pointed to some extra motivation for the defense. It's currently ranked No. 2 in the NFL against the run. The Cowboys are allowing 81.5 rushing yards per game. The Ravens are giving up 85.1. So Baltimore has a chance to finish atop the league.

The Ravens are now fifth in the NFL in yards allowed per game (318.9), but are just 13.2 yards behind the leading Houston Texans.

"You do not get many opportunities like that in this league to have a chance at being No. 1," Weddle said.

Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees was asked how the Ravens defense responds to the late Pittsburgh loss. He took a big-picture outlook. His unit will dust itself off and try to shut down the Bengals, who will be without top wide receiver A.J. Green (hamstring) and tight end Tyler Eifert (back).

"You get back up and play; that's the job. Everybody has a job to do," Pees said. "They're professional football players. I'm a professional coach. What's the difference between this job and any other job? You have bad days; you have good days. Do you quit when you have a bad day?"

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