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Ravens' 'sudden-change' defense among league's best

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh talks about the Texans' J.J. Watt and preparing to face either of Houston's two quarterbacks. (BSMG)

For all of the short fields the Ravens allowed in Sunday's close win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, coach John Harbaugh lauded his defense for its play when the offense or special teams put it in tough situations.

Though Sunday was the most recent example of those plays, it's hardly a new development for the Ravens' defense.

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"We gave them some field position," Harbaugh said. "We had five issues on special teams and one on defense that created the ball near or past the 50-yard line five different times. … To our guys' credit, our defense rose up and just played outstanding football — sudden-change, backed-up football — and got some big stops for us."

Save for a few outliers, that has been the case all year. The Ravens have turned the ball over just 17 times, tied for eighth fewest in the league, and they have allowed just 40 points off those turnovers. The average of 2.35 points allowed per turnover is second only to Miami, who has allowed 1.85 points per turnover (37 points on 20 turnovers). It means that, more often than not, the Ravens defense is limiting the damage from offensive mistakes.

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Eleven of those 17 turnovers gave the opponent the ball inside Ravens territory, and the Ravens kept opponents out of the end zone on eight of those 11. Four more resulted in field goals, while two field goals were missed, and twice the opponent gave the ball back to the Ravens via turnover or turnover on downs.

Of the remaining six possessions following turnovers, four resulted in punts, one resulted in a turnover on downs, and the last, which began at the opponent's 49-yard line, resulted in a touchdown.

While impressive, what jumps out most is how few of those drives after turnovers were of the sustained, game-swinging variety. The longest drive after a turnover was 51 yards, while three went for single-digits, one went for zero yards, and four produced negative yardage.

The average drive after turnovers goes just 14.3 yards against the Ravens, which is less than half the average NFL drive length of around 30 yards.

All told, Sunday's efforts against Jacksonville when the Jaguars started twice in Ravens' territory and four times within ten yards of midfield on their own half and came away with just six points signifies how stingy the Ravens can be when put in compromising positions by the offense and special teams.

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