Secondary Feasts On Turnovers, Blankets Bengals


Judging by the stats, the Ravens defense had been good this season – real good.

But it hadn't been dominant.

That's what it was Sunday against Cincinnati, leading Baltimore to a 20-17 overtime win. The two major missing ingredients had been allowing late-game drives and not getting turnovers.

On Sunday, the Ravens got three interceptions and stuffed the Bengals on fourth down in overtime, setting up Justin Tucker's game-winning 46-yard field goal.

Safety James Ihedigbo told the team going into the game not to "let your good get in the way of being great."

"We played awesome on defense," said Ihedigbo, who had two of the three interceptions.

"I made the reference back to the 2000 [Ravens] defense – they didn't give up anything to anybody. And when you go with that mindset, you know, it shows on the field."

The Ravens held an explosive Bengals offense to 364 yards of total offense. Quarterback Andy Dalton, who is by many accounts having his best season, completed just 24 of 51 passes for 274 yards and left with a 52.3 quarterback rating. Those stats are inflated by a 51-yard Hail Mary for a touchdown.

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, who entered the game leading the NFL in receiving yards, finished with eight catches for 151 yards and a touchdown. But he was targeted a whopping 15 times and most of the damage was done on the Hail Mary.

Outside of Green, wide receiver Mohammed Sanu had just three catches and No. 2 receiver Marvin Jones caught one pass for two yards.

"Our secondary played tremendously well," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I thought the pressure was very good, but our secondary covered a very talented and gifted receiving corps all day."

Cornerback Jimmy Smith was limited in practice leading up to the game due to a thigh injury. He still turned in a standout performance, breaking up one deep pass over the middle to force a punt and reaching around Green to break up a pass in the third quarter and force another punt.

Lardarius Webb admitted he had been picked on for much of the season, and was coming off a tough game in Cleveland. He logged a staggering six pass deflections and was often used as a blitzing nickel cornerback.

"Last week kind of had me down so I worked my butt off in practice this week," Webb said. "I just had to get better. I know I'm not 100 [percent], but I had to get better."

Outside of solid all-around secondary play, the difference was turnovers. The Ravens entered the game ranked 25th in the NFL in team takeaways (10). They had recovered six fumbles, including one on special teams, and intercepted just four passes.

Ihedigbo hadn't intercepted a single pass in his six NFL seasons. His first came on an overthrow in the second quarter and he had another on the Bengals' second-to-last drive of regulation after rookie safety Matt Elam tipped another poor pass into the wind.

Webb got his first interception since Oct. 7 of 2012 when he ripped the ball away from Jones in the third quarter. He hadn't notched one since coming back from ACL surgery.

"We made an emphasis on it this week: defensive backs, let's get picks," Webb said. "Let's get the ball and bring it back to the sideline, because if we get our hands on the ball, then we win the game. Now I see it's true. If we keep getting turnovers, we can win ballgames."

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