Despite injuries that have sapped the Ravens of the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs and defensive end Pernell McPhee for several games, the defense has put a fair amount of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The unit's 32 sacks are tied for 16th in the league.
Adding to that number this Sunday when the New York Giants visit M&T Bank Stadium won't be easy. Thus far, the Giants offensive line has surrendered NFL lows in both sacks (16) and quarterback hits (42). New York did not allow quarterback Eli Manning to get sacked in four of its first seven games and in five total contests this year.
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said Manning – who has been sacked 15 times thus far – is more mobile than his older brother, who quarterbacks the Denver Broncos and was sacked twice by the Ravens last Sunday.
"When I've watched him on film, I've actually been more surprised at how elusive he is," Ngata said of Eli Manning. "He's been able to run the ball at times. I don't think people really see it. He moves better than people think, but he also gets rid of the ball fast when he knows he's in trouble."
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees agreed with Ngata, saying, "He gets out of the pocket, he scrambles a little bit. I don't think most people would think of him necessarily as a scrambler per se, like a [Ben] Roethlisberger or guys like that, but he does scramble to throw. So you've got to be alert. You can't come out of coverage and think that he's going to run like a [Michael] Vick or somebody like that is going to do. But he's always kind of had that. I remember the Super Bowl in '07. The [David] Tyree catch was a scramble. So he's always had that ability, and that's part of the reason why he hasn't been sacked."
Manning has also benefitted from a generally healthy Giants offensive line. Center David Baas and guards Chris Snee and Kevin Boothe have not missed a start this season, left tackle Will Beatty has started 12 straight contests, and right tackle David Diehl has started eight times, including the last six.
But the line's chemistry might have to change for Sunday's contest. Baas (hip/shoulder) and Snee (hip) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Their availability will likely depend on their ability to practice Friday.
The Ravens could also use a boost from Suggs, who has been slowed by a torn right biceps. Suggs rotated in and out of Sunday's 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos, but Pees said that Suggs is managing as well as one could expect.
"He's coming back," Pees said. "He's not back full, but he's back, and he's playing hard. I think if you asked him, I don't think he'd tell you he's playing at 100 percent like he has, but he certainly has given us great effort and what we need from him."