OWINGS MILLS - Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were once one of the NFL's most feared pass rush tandems, tormenting offensive lines for the better part of the last decade with a rare combination of speed and athleticism off the edge.
But while the tandem's numbers are down this season - especially Freeney's - Ravens center Matt Birk said the combination of Freeney and Mathis still poses a significant challenge for Baltimore's offensive line heading into Sunday's AFC Wild Card matchup with the Colts.
"Sometimes stats tell the whole story, but sometimes they don't," Birk said. "Film tells the story, and both of those guys continue to play at a very high level."
But the numbers are down this season.
A traditionally dominant Indianapolis pass rush finished the regular season with just 32 sacks, the fourth-fewest in the AFC, and Freeney posted only five sacks, the lowest total of his 11-year career in a season during which he's played in at least 10 games.
But Mathis did have eight sacks, former first-round pick Jerry Hughes had four and Freeney, regardless of any regression in production this season, has 107.5 sacks since he entered the NFL in 2002, the fourth-highest total of any player during that span.
Baltimore's offensive line held a potent New York Giants pass rush without a sack in Week 16, but yielded three sacks or more in seven of the first 14 games.
Left tackle Michael Oher surrendered 10 sacks during the regular season, tied for the most of any starting tackle in the AFC according to Pro Football Focus, while rookie right tackle Kelechi Osemele was beaten for seven sacks.