It may have taken until the playoffs, but the Baltimore Ravens and their once-vaunted defense are finally complete and hitting their stride at the right time.
After a regular season chock full of injuries and unprecedented poor rankings and statistics, the Ravens’ defense put up a performance reminiscent of dominant defenses of yesteryear against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
First and foremost, it was the first time all season that Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Ed Reed all played in the same game. By getting their core defenders on the field at the same time, it was a huge lift for the beleaguered defense.
Lewis, playing in his final playoffs, had his defense ready to stifle Luck and the Colts to a mere nine points, which tied a season low for the Colts. Lewis led all defenders in tackles with 13 and his presence on the field was immeasurable. It was Lewis’ first game since Week 6, and he played like a man trying to prolong his hall of fame career. Luck had 13 touchdown passes in his previous seven games, but the Ravens’ defense harassed Luck all game and he was held out of the end zone.
The Ravens meanwhile held an opponent without a touchdown for just the third time all season. The nine points allowed was the second lowest total allowed this season, after holding the pathetic Kansas City Chiefs to six points in Week 5. After allowing over 21 points per game during the regular season, it was a very impressive effort shutting down Luck and the Colts’ 10th-ranked offense.
The defense also got a huge lift from linebacker Paul Kruger, who had 2.5 sacks and was in Luck’s face all game. If the veteran core can play big in Lewis’ last ride while getting contributions from younger difference makers like Kruger and Cary Williams, the Ravens may have a shot at a deep playoff run.
The defense will have to be at the forefront of any potential deep run, as they will have to slow down the likes of Peyton Manning this week and Tom Brady looming should the Ravens advance.
Even if it is Lewis’ last playoff run, at least we got to see the Ravens’ dominant defense put a hurt on the opposition one last time.