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Ravens' red-zone defense, run defense regressing

The Ravens' traditionally stout red-zone defense and run defense is suddenly headed in the wrong direction at the end of the season.

The Ravens were ranked first in the NFL in red-zone defense heading into their game against the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 8.

However, they have now surrendered six touchdowns on opponents' past six drives inside their 20-yard line. That included the New England Patriots scoring on all three red-zone trips during a 41-7 rout of the Ravens on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens are now ranked seventh in the NFL in red-zone defense.

"We came into the game with the mindset to run the football, and that's what we came in here and did," said Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount, who rushed for two touchdowns in the game. "We ran the fullback as much and as effectively as possible and came out with the win."

The Ravens' run defense had allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns in the NFL through 11 games, but it has now given up at least one rushing touchdown in each of the past four games.

The Patriots rushed for 142 yards on 34 carries, averaging 4.2 yards per run. Blount gained a game-high 76 yards on 16 carries.

"Yeah, they were able to get the run game going on us," Ravens middle linebacker Daryl Smith said. "We had to step up on the run, you know what I mean? They played a hell of a game."

awilson@baltsun.com
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