Defensive coordinator Dean Pees' secondary needs to make strides as the Ravens emerge from their bye week.
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees' secondary needs to make strides as the Ravens emerge from their bye week. (Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun)

One of the Ravens' most vulnerable aspects on defense has been their tendency to allow big plays.

That affected the outcome in three of the Ravens' four losses -- two losses to the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals and the six-touchdown game from Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.


The Ravens (6-4) rank 11th in total defense and fifth against the run, but they are 21st in passing defense and are allowing 251.2 yards through the air per game. They've allowed 14 touchdown passes.

"Big plays," Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees said before the bye when asked where the defense needs to improve. "It's not magic. There's no secret. If you don't give up big plays generally in a game.. Make a team drive the distance on you, and maybe they'll make a mistake. Let them make the mistakes. Make them drive the field on you. They're going to complete some out routes."

During a 21-7 win over the Tennessee Titans before the bye, the longest play surrendered by the Ravens was a 20-yard completion by rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

"I wasn't upset with any of those comebacks that the new quarterback from the Titans threw," Pees said. "He threw a couple good balls right on the sideline, guy catches it, [and I said], 'Hey, play the next play.' Those are not the plays that are going to kill you.

"The ones over the top do. If I had one thing that I'd say about self-scout, that's it. Big plays and why they happened. And that's what we really have to emphasize here."

Another point of emphasis for the Ravens is intercepting more passes.

The secondary has just two interceptions this season. Nickel back Danny Gorrer intercepted a pass against the Titans.

"When you're playing a lot of man coverage, you're not going to get a lot of interceptions," Pees said. "You're going to get more interceptions when you play zone. We were in zone on that one. We want to have more interceptions than we've had. I will take a little bit of the side that part of that, too, is a secondary working together all the time helps a whole lot, too, and communication.

"And when you have different moving parts – which we have kind of had in this first 10 weeks, a lot of different ways, sometimes that's not great, but that's not an excuse. We need to get more interceptions, and I know that the coaches are emphasizing that."


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