Through the first four weeks of the season, the Ravens' defense was roundly applauded for, in part, its ability to cause turnovers, taking the ball away 14 times from opponents.
Since then, however, the well has been running dry. Over the past five games, the defense has forced just four turnovers.
Naturally, takeaways continue to be an objective for the defense, but inside linebacker Ray Lewis said there’s a thin line between being aggressive in an attempt to force turnovers and inviting big plays and potential touchdowns.
“You just have to keep the ball in front of you and minimize your gains and things like that,” he said Wednesday. “At the end of the day, we’ll find a way to get to him. It’s just, do you have that much time to get to him? If the balance of the game goes the way it’s supposed to go, then it’ll create opportunities themselves because they’ll be in third-and-longs, they’ll be playing from behind. They’ll have to throw the ball more instead of playing in those dink and dunk [situations], run the ball 42 or 45 times, that safe ball, so that we don’t get into the rhythm that we usually get into.”
Coach John Harbaugh agreed with the 12-time Pro Bowl selection.
“We always emphasize it, no matter what, and our guys do everything they can to create turnovers,” Harbaugh said. “You do that through your technique and your responsibility. Yeah, sometimes they come to you, and sometimes they don’t. But you try to create them with hard hits. You try to create them by stripping the ball, especially in the run game, but also in the pass game. You get your hand in there, [and] you bat balls at the line of scrimmage. You step in front of throws. Sometimes they throw them to you. But it’s very important for us to do that. What you don’t do, you don’t step outside the responsibility of the defense to try to create something that’s not there and give up a big play. Because there are priorities in the pecking order, and the priority in the pecking order is to get a stop first. If we can get a turnover as we do that, we definitely want to do that.”