The Baltimore Ravens have always been known for their defense, but they’re not getting to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game, at least through the first half anyway. The Ravens have been blitzing a lot from the outside, which was obviously part of their game plan this week while preparing to play the Patriots, but apparently New England head coach Bill Belichick knew it was coming as Brady has audible to offset these outside blitzes, rendering them useless in the first half. Baltimore has used linebacker Ray Lewis as a decoy for much of the first two quarters, but you better believe that will change in the third and fourth periods.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has really been leaning on the cornerback blitz, which is typically a rare play used by NFL defenses, even one as exotic as Baltimore’s. However, Brady had used the audible “Ricky” to change the called play to a fake stretch run and then a screen pass to the opposite side of the field. Although it hasn’t worked every time, the Ravens’ defense has not registered a sack so far in this game. Baltimore has laid a few licks on Brady, but nothing nearly effective enough to alter his game any.
In the second half, Harbaugh’s defense will have to make players like Lewis parts of the plan by sending heat down the middle instead of just off the edge. Belichick will likely be ready for such an adjustment, so these inside blitzes will have to be stunts, twists, combos and other exotic play calls to keep Brady and company off balance. It won’t be easy, but it’s a must for Baltimore to have a shot at facing the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.