194 passing yards allowed, 65 yards rushing allowed, and five sacks. Holy smokes, it may be Cleveland, but the Ravens’ defense looked like it was out to send a message:
‘We will not be embarrassed again.’
Peyton Manning’s seven touchdown passes and 49 points seemed like a thing of the past to the Ravens secondary, holding Quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell (I didn’t even know he was still in the league!) to a measly 194 yards and no touchdowns, a great feat regardless of the Quarterback. Trent Richardson, 58 yards on 18 carries, almost identical to the Broncos combined rushing attack of 63 yards on 21 carries last week, so the defense still held strong against a much stronger runner in Richardson.
Let’s breakdown the whole thing group-by-group:
One sack, two tackles for a loss, and three quarterback hits, while not entirely impressive, they opened up the offensive line for the Linebackers to create a lot of pressure. The big news is that Arthur Jones, who had one sack, seems to be fine after he had a scare with a viral infection near his heart that caused him to miss Week 1 against the Broncos. A healthy mix of Jones, Marcus Spears, Haloti Ngata, Pernell McPhee, and Chris Canty were able to shut down Trent Richardson for the most part, and he was one of the few 100-yards rushers against the Ravens.
Four sacks and nine quarterbacks hits, I don’t think there was a passing situation where Weeden didn’t feel pressure. Suggs and Dumervil looked like the 1-2 combo they’ve been hyped up to be. Daryl Smith, in my opinion, looked like one of the best inside linebacker in the league this season; he has a natural nose for the ball and amazing in pass coverage. My only worry is the other starting inside linebacker, Josh Bynes, I haven’t seen much of him the past two games, except when he lost running back Chris Ogbonnaya on wheel route that would have gone for a touchdown had Weeden not overthrown him, and that means one of two things, he’s doing his job and opening up opportunities for the other linebackers, or he’s ineffective and not making plays.
While they had no turnovers, the Secondary is what really impressed me. They held Weeden and Campbell to a combined 22 for 37 and 194 yards and no touchdowns. I don’t think I need to say it, but no passing touchdowns are a lot better than 7 passing touchdowns. What surprised a lot people is that first-round pick Matt Elam got to start at Free Safety over veteran Michael Huff, Huff acknowledged he played poorly against the Broncos and said “it was on him” to win the starting job back. Head Coach John Harbaugh also said Elam played a bit too conservatively at times and didn’t play with his full range. Jimmy Smith also got the start ahead of Corey Graham, who also has played poorly against the Broncos (He was going up against Welker most of the time, so cut him some slack.), and boy, did Smith step up his game. Smith covered the Browns number one target, Greg Little (HA!), who is filling in while Josh Gordon is suspended, and gave him almost no separation and played physical, like he should. Not all credit should go to Smith though, Little is notorious for dropping passes, which he did a lot Sunday. It’ll be interesting to see how Smith will fare against DeAndre Hopkins of the Texans, who is coming off a huge game against the Titans.
If the defense can show up like it did against Cleveland and the offense can get going like it did against Denver, the Ravens can be a scary looking team this season.