Are defenders trying to be a hero and make the play by themselves rather than working together and gang-tackling?

"I think we all have been a victim of that," said outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year who missed the first six games with a partially torn right Achilles tendon. "Everybody is really wanting to be hungry to make the play. Sometimes it can bite you in the butt, being too aggressive.

"That's nothing new around here. That's how teams try to game-plan us and scheme us, because we are an aggressive defense, so they try to use our aggressiveness against us."

Promoted from linebackers coach before the season to replace Chuck Pagano, first-year defensive coordinator Dean Pees chalks up the shortcomings to technique problems in the front seven and missing tackles against Dallas.

Pees has dialed up several run blitzes to attempt to counteract the slippage up front.

"It's not about calling blitzes at the right time and pressures," Pees said. "You've got to make them work, and that's all by technique. We've gotten better, but we're not where we need to be."

Getting blocked

The defining trait of an effective 3-4 defense is maintaining a stout presence in the middle at nose guard.

The defense requires a hefty anchor to prevent blockers from reaching the second level, and not getting moved off the line of scrimmage.

Ravens nose guards Ma'ake Kemoeatu and Terrence Cody are massive at 6 feet 5, 345 pounds and 6-4, 341 pounds, respectively.

However, a common sight has been watching the tandem get driven off the football back into the linebackers, not penetrating the backfield or getting stuck to blocks.

"They get moved around with the double-teams," Cosell said. "That's one of the big foundations of attacking the running game. They've had trouble with that."

Against the Chiefs, centers and guards were repeatedly not tied up by Cody and Kemoeatu.

That led directly to blockers crashing into Lewis.

"We need to stay square, and stay on our feet," Cody said. "There were a couple of times where we weren't doing that well."

While the interior is suddenly vulnerable, the perimeter isn't exactly a stronghold.

The outside linebackers haven't consistently set the edge to provide containment on sweeps and zone-stretch runs. This became a huge issue against Charles (140 yards) and Foster (98 yards, two touchdowns).

"We have to keep getting better," rookie outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw said. "Our job is to set the edge."

Where's the impact player?

One major change for the defense is how players rarely defeat single-blocking schemes and toss a running back to the ground for a loss of yardage.