Baltimore Ravens' ruthless defence driving unlikely playoff push

Jay Asser 15:17 29/11/2017
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Defence and the Baltimore Ravens are synonymous once again and the unit’s stinginess continues to cover up shortcomings on the other side of the ball.

Baltimore’s two phases have been on opposite ends of the spectrum this season, with the defence proving to be one of the best in the league while the offence has been mediocre at best.

The contrast was evident in the 23-16 win over Houston on Monday night, when the Ravens stymied the Texans in the second half and came up with key turnovers to earn a victory that wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, but enough to move them to 6-5 and keep them alive in the playoff race.

Their offence, meanwhile, was outgained 303 to 294 by Houston as quarterback Joe Flacco threw for just 155 yards, but the defence allowed just two field goals after the intermission and produced a fumble and interception on the Texans’ final two drives.

“The defence wants the game in their hands,” said Baltimore coach John Harbaugh. “If they don’t score, we win – that’s the mentality of those guys.”

The Ravens’ pass defence has been particularly stout this season, ranking first in the league in passer rating allowed at 65.9, while being second in average pass yards given up with 189.9 and completion percentage surrendered at 57.2 per cent.

But perhaps their most impactful attribute has been their knack for timely interceptions, which they now have 18 of to lead the NFL.

“We have a goal,” said safety Tony Jefferson, who had his first pick with Baltimore in the win over Houston. Our mindset is to take the ball away and have the offence protect the ball. We did that, and I think that’s an old saying – ‘If you win the turnover battle, you usually win the game.’ We have to continue to do that.”

As effective as the defence has been, Baltimore is still only one game above .500 and will have to earn a playoff spot the rest of the way.

That’s why Flacco understands he and the rest of the offence will have to turn it around to accomplish their ultimate goal.

“If we believe we can win the Super Bowl with how we’re playing right now, I’m all for it. I really am,” Flacco said.

“[But] we can all take a look at that and say it’s probably not super-realistic. We need to go out there, we need to go get it and we need to be better on our side of the ball.”

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