Considering the Ravens entered the game with the best pass-rushing defense in the NFL (37 sacks) and the Steelers were 28th in sacks allowed (37), most would have thought this would have been a favorable matchup on the Baltimore side of things. Yes, Ben Roethlisberger has an the ability to escape surefire sacks and pressure like no other quarterback in the league, but that offensive line for Pittsburgh is brutal and there’s no reason the likes of Elvis Dumervil, Terrell Suggs and the rest of that 12-ranked pass defense should be held sackless.
Facing a team like the Minnesota Vikings will be an interesting matchup for the Ravens, but one they should handle with relative ease. Yes, they have Adrian Peterson. He is a stud and despite the Ravens having the sixth-best run defense, the Vikings are sixth running the football for that reason. Peterson will get his no doubt about it no matter the defense or offensive line in front of him. That being said, their quarterback situation is extremely dicey with Christian Ponder battling concussion-like symptoms, Matt Cassell potentially being the fill-in guy and Josh Freeman … well, he’s a guy.
Minnesota enters the game 24th in the league in passing yards per game (210.6), while the Ravens are 12th in defending the pass (228.9 yards per game). Yes, the Ravens secondary has been exceptional at times this season, but it comes down to the combined 18.5 sacks between Dumervil and Suggs, among other guys in creating pressure on the quarterback. If the Vikings never had to pass the ball, they wouldn’t, but it just isn’t that easy in the NFL.
For the Ravens to win this Sunday, they will need their pass rush to be in top form against a lackluster pass offense. The Vikings don’t scare anyone throwing the football, but the Ravens can bury them with constant pressure on the quarterback, potentially forcing sack-fumbles and do something Baltimore’s defense has largely been allergic to: force three-and-outs.
A game like Sunday, where the pass rush needs to step up, requires effort and an ability to finish plays entirely and not give up to easily. Dumervil and Suggs could have three or four more sacks a piece if they finished all of their rushes, but players make mistakes … it happens. A ‘never-say-die’ attitude is something Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has always preached. We will see if ‘organized chaos’ returns in the form of a multi-sack day for this front seven.