The Ravens' defense ranked as low as No. 19 in the NFL this season. Then, over the final 10 weeks of the regular season, that group slowly climbed up the rankings and finished No. 3 overall (fifth against the run and tied for eighth against the pass).
This marks the seventh straight season that the Ravens' defense has finished in the top six.
"I think anytime in this league, a defense either gets better or worse, depending on who steps up, because you're never going to go through the season 100 percent healthy," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. "When the guys get nicked up or get hurt, then the next guy that steps up and our guys have taken great pride in that."
Mattison added, "They understand that if you're going to be in that Raven huddle, and if you're going to be a Raven defensive player, you better play at that level. And guys like [Dannell] Ellerbe, [Jameel] McClain have started to step up and play the way we wanted them to play."
Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo will join the Ravens Insider blog on Friday for a live chat beginning at 1 p.m. Click here to access the chat.