With Sunday’s game hanging in the balance, the Ravens sat back and let their front four do the work.
The Ravens sacked Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill on four of his final 15 dropbacks. And according to ESPN Stats and Info, each of those sacks came when the Ravens sent a four-man rush.
Terrell Suggs was nearly a one-man wrecking crew, picking up each of his three sacks in that final quarter. Two came against Dolphins left tackle Jonathan Martin. Another came against right tackle Tyson Clabo. Suggs single-handedly short-circuited one Dolphins drive with sacks on first and third down.
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But the biggest sack came from Elvis Dumervil. The Dolphins had entered Ravens territory in the game’s final moments when he bull-rushed Clabo, shoved him aside and sacked Tannehill for a 5-yard loss on second down. The sack pushed the Dolphins to the fringe of Caleb Sturgis’ range, and he missed his attempt at a game-tying field goal.
As I wrote this morning, the Ravens have the personnel to terrorize quarterbacks on third-and-long and it is fun to watch them blitz, but that’s usually not necessary.
That’s because the Ravens are getting it done when they send just four rushers. They have 19 sacks through five games and only four of those occurred when they blitzed, according to Pro Football Focus.
Their four-man rushes took down the Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning three times. They got to both the Cleveland Browns' Brandon Weeden and the Buffalo Bills' EJ Manuel twice and the Houston Texans' Matt Schaub three times. Five of their six sacks of Tannehill on Sunday were with four-man rushes.
This is what the Ravens had in mind when they used the money they saved by trading wide receiver Anquan Boldin to sign Dumervil and defensive end Chris Canty. With Dumervil and a healthy Suggs book-ending a strong front four, the Ravens were hoping they could generate enough pressure to drop seven defenders into coverage.
Before the season, I predicted that Suggs and Dumervil would combine for 25 sacks. Dumervil is doing his part with three sacks. But with seven in five games, Suggs is on pace to threaten that mark by himself.
The Baltimore secondary is still trying to come together on the back end, but the guys up front are holding up their end of the bargain.