The story coming into the game for the Baltimore Ravens’ defense was the return of Ray Lewis playing in what could have been the final game of his career. While Lewis played extremely well in his return and final home game, one Ravens’ defender stole the show.
Linebacker Paul Kruger was an absolute beast against the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line, as he wreaked havoc on Andrew Luck all game long.
Kruger had 2.5 sacks and finished the day with five quarterback hits. Kruger didn’t get cheated on any of his hits, as he slammed Luck to the ground on numerous occasions. One of his sacks was a sweeping underneath move that allowed him to basically clothesline Luck and plant him into the ground.
The 238-pound Luck is no easy man to bring to the ground, but Kruger’s speed rush made him a menace to the Colts all game.
The huge game by Kruger should come as no big surprise, as his play this season was one of the few bright spots on the Ravens’ shorthanded and underachieving defense.
Kruger’s nine sacks were twice as many as any other Ravens’ defender had, as Kruger saw a huge spike in playing time after Lewis’ injury. Lewis himself even stated that he thought Kruger would have the biggest chance to step up after he sustained his regular-season-ending injury.
Kruger’s biggest asset is his versatility, and he displayed throughout the regular season. Kruger was the only member of the Ravens’ defense to register a sack, interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery this season. Kruger’s athleticism and handwork make him a threat anywhere on the field, as he can fill up the stat sheet at a high rate.
Kruger got his shot at the right time, as he will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Considering Kruger will be entering his fifth season, he is on the cusp of entering his prime. Throw in the fact the Ravens will start next season without Ray Lewis on their roster for the first time in franchise history, and it appears signing Kruger will be a top priority this offseason.
Before that happens, it will be up to Kruger and the rest of the Ravens’ defense to slow down Peyton Manning and the fourth-ranked offense of the Denver Broncos.
After the season Kruger has had all he can do is increase his value, as the Ravens are huge underdogs heading into Denver. If Kruger can continue to menace quarterbacks like he has done all season, the Ravens stand a fighting chance to upset Manning and the Broncos.