Ray Lewis Not Worried About 27th NFL Ranking


The Ravens are accustomed to having one of the NFL's most dominant defenses.

But after two games of the 2012 season, Baltimore is ranked 27th in the league in total defense, giving up an average of 404 yards per game.

And while the early statistics aren't favorable for the Ravens, linebacker Ray Lewis isn't worried about the numbers right now.

"We always say, 'Find us at the end of the year and you know where we're going to be,'" Lewis said Wednesday. "At the end of the year, every year, is when you always pay attention to stats."

In Sunday's 24-23 loss to the Eagles, the Ravens had a difficult time stopping quarterback Michael Vick, who led the Eagles to 486 yards of total offense.

 "We need to tighten up," veteran safety Ed Reed said. "We need to get better, like we plan to and like we try to do every day. We've given up a lot of yards on the ground and in the air. We talked about it long enough, like I told the guys, and it's time for us to play ball and correct the little things that we know we can correct. It's just a matter of transferring it onto the football field."

The Eagles ran a balanced offense – 32 passing attempts and 29 rushes – and the Ravens struggled to get Philadelphia off the field. The biggest problem, according to defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, was a need to get more pressure up front. 

"As a defensive line, I think we have to get more pressure, as just a four-man rush," said Ngata, who has notched two sacks so far this season. "I think we need more pressure to help our back end. If we can get those things fixed then I'll feel better about my play, but I think right now we have some things we have to improve."

The Ravens have several young pieces on their defense, especially up front.

Outside linebacker Albert McClellan is in his first season of significant playing time. Fourth-year outside linebacker Paul Kruger and second-year defensive end Pernell McPhee are both starting for the first time. Rookie Courtney Upshaw is playing considerable minutes and started in place of the injured Kruger last week.

Teams recognize that the Ravens are without Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson, Ngata said, and they're putting the younger pieces to the test.

"They tried to test our younger guys last week in Philly, but I think our younger guys did great," Ngata said.

The pass rush was a big question mark coming into the season because of Suggs' absence. Through the first two games, the Ravens have six sacks, tied for fourth most in the NFL.

But more importantly than the pass rush, the key for Baltimore is to stop the run, which has long been a characteristic of the Ravens defense.

"We're not used to having teams try to run on us as much and I think a lot of it starts up front," Ngata said. "Hopefully we can stop that run early and just try to pressure the quarterback better. I think once we can do that our defense can be more dominant."

And if the Ravens can make those adjustments, then Lewis expects the defense to move back up toward the top of the league rankings.

"You can always fix things here or there or make things better," Lewis said. "Trust me, we've never gotten into stats early… It's all about adjustment."

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