Remember how poorly everyone felt after the Charger game?
After that dagger of a loss, it sure seemed like the playoffs were out of reach for the Baltimore Ravens. Two wins later and the Ravens have seemingly risen from the ashes to control their own destiny with two games remaining against the Houston Texans (featuring a QB to be named later) and the fading Cleveland Browns (led by the artist formerly known as Johnny Football).
Who do we have to thank for this remarkable development? The front seven of the defense.
For most of this season I’ve made my feelings pretty clear about how terrible the secondary is. What I haven’t done enough of is give praise to a front seven that has simply dominated over the last third of the schedule.
The Ravens have racked up 14(!) sacks the last two games alone. While the competition wasn’t necessarily All-Pro caliber, those kinds of totals are nonetheless pretty damn impressive.
Special kudos go out to the following defensive standouts:
What else can you say about the season Elvis Dumervil is having? The man they call “Doom” is wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks, while setting personal and team records along the way. He’s one of the top candidates for Defensive Player of the Year and is by far the best player acquired due to a fax machine snafu EVER!
I’ve been pretty critical of Suggs from time to time this season, but T-Sizzle has proven to be a force down the stretch. Suggs now has 11 sacks on the season with two more games remaining to break his personal mark of 14 from his DPOY season in ’11.
McPhee has returned to the form he flashed during his rookie season in 2011 and is only a 1/2 sack away from matching is career high of 6 sacks set in ’11. A free agent as season’s end, McPhee can play multiple positions up front and is surely pricing himself out of returning to Baltimore in 2015.
The second year nose tackle out of Missouri-Southern State, has been a beast up front for the Ravens. A worthy successor to former standout Ravens defensive tackles like Tony Siragusa, Sam Adams, Kelly Gregg, and current teammate Haloti Ngata; Williams clogs up opponents’ running lanes, freeing up his teammates to do damage in the backfield.
He’s simply the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Read more about Mosley in this great post by my BSR colleague Matt Lund.
With the playoffs a near certainty, these five defensive stalwarts and the rest of the Baltimore defensive front will have to remain dominant for the team to make a deep run toward the Super Bowl.
I need to dole out my saves for the last two wins against Miami and Jacksonville. For the Miami game I’m giving the save to Elvis Dumervil for his 3 1/2 sacks. Dumervil, of course, is now the single-season franchise leader in sacks with 17 and he’s likely to add to that total over the next two games.
For the Jacksonville game, I’m awarding the save to Terrell Suggs, who finished with 2 1/2 sacks. As mentioned above, I’ve been fairly critical of Suggs this year, but he’s returned to being a force in the second half of this season. Honorable mention for this game goes to Timmy Jernigan who had a huge game with 2 sacks of his own.
Save totals through week 15*: Elvis Dumervil (2 1/2), CJ Mosley (1 1/2), Terrell Suggs (1), Will Hill (1), Asa Jackson (1), Pernell McPhee (1/2), Terrence Brooks (1/2)
*No save awarded for week 6 win at Tampa