Ravens opportunistic defense fuels 2-0 start this season
Turron Davenport | 9/22/2017, 6 a.m.
The Baltimore Ravens turned back the clock to the days when the defense was the driving force behind winning games. The defense forced five turnovers in back-to-back games to start the 2017 NFL season.
Head coach John Harbaugh is an old school football soul who loves smash mouth play. He is proud of what the defense has done so far.
"Our guys really don’t blink. They’re resilient, tough, and they just keep playing," Harbaugh said after the win over Cleveland on Sunday, September 17. "They’re confident that they’ll make a play and make a stop, and that’s what you want from a really good defense."
The Ravens have undergone some changes on defense after losing defensive tackle Tim Jernigan to free agency and cornerback Tavon Young to injury. Despite the changes, Harbaugh isn't surprised by the fast start.
“I would just say we’re right on schedule. Let’s keep it going. That’s the track we want to maintain," Harbaugh said “It’s an amazing thing to accomplish, but we want to keep pressure on in every phase, and when you do that and play sound football, you have a chance to force them into mistakes,” he said. "I think the other thing in the game was that we were able to force our opponents into mistakes, and that made a big difference for us.”
Veteran safety Eric Weddle had an impressive one-handed interception against the Browns last week. He loves the way the team stuck together when things got tough.
“We’re an opportunistic defense. We’re a brotherhood," Weddle said." We believe in each other, and like I said, we gave up some plays that we don’t ever do. But we didn’t point the fingers. We didn’t blame anybody.
"We looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s clutch up, let’s get off the field.’ We can take some positives from it, but we can’t give up as many big plays as we did."
Through two games, the Ravens defense has only allowed a total of 10 points. Baltimore opened the season by shutting out the Cincinnati Bengals and the Ravens held the Browns to 10 points in week 2.
Their 2-0 record is even more significant considering both wins are against AFC North division rivals. Quarterback Joe Flacco has a front row seat to the Ravens dominance in defense.
"They’re getting good pressure on the quarterback, and then when they don’t have great pressure on the quarterback, they’re at least forcing him to hold the ball with the coverage," Flacco said after the game. "Eventually somebody kind of gets free and forces him to throw the ball quickly, last-second, because there is pressure late. And any time you can get pressure on the quarterback and create those kinds of things [is good].
"You get a lead and get pressure on the quarterback, it’s a good winning recipe because it’s the toughest thing to do in this league is play under a consistent pressure as a quarterback, and to be able to put both guys in that situation the last two weeks, has been huge for us.”
This week presents a different challenge for the Ravens because they have to travel to London for their next game. Their streak of forcing multiple turnovers in a game should continue against Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars.