Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees talks about how the defense has played this season and how it will rebound for the final game of the season. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun video)
The Ravens gave up 10 early points to the Pittsburgh Steelers, shut them out over the second and third quarters, and then allowed them to score 21 points in the final quarter.
The defense's Jekyll-and-Hyde routine is still puzzling to defensive coordinator Dean Pees. But one thing he pointed out is that the unit continues to struggle with finishing off opponents, and some of that, he said, has to do with the youth on the that side of the ball.
"I think a little bit sometimes with our guys, we've got some young guys, and when you haven't had a ton of success in those situations, sometimes it's all of a sudden like, 'I don't want to be the one that makes the mistake,'" Pees said during his weekly news conference. "And when you play like that, that's generally when you make the mistake. All of a sudden. when you were up there playing tighter coverage, you were great. Now all of a sudden, you're like, 'I don't want to be the one to give this up.' So you play a little looser and then all of a sudden, something else happens.
"I just think we've got to grow through that and become a confident team, and the only way you become confident in anything you do is have success."
Pees said he wants the players to be aggressive, and that mindset is one he tried to infuse in the defense's last, yet unsuccessful, stand against Pittsburgh.
"I told them before we went out on Sunday in that two-minute situation, 'We are not sitting back here and playing four-man rush and coverage all day. We're going to go get this guy. We're going to make him throw the ball quick.' Which he did the very first two plays," Pees said. "And then all of a sudden, he gets out of bounds, everybody gets a little [iffy] like, 'Aw, man, the pressures aren't working.' You just can't play that way. We've got to grow through that. We're a good defense, but that's what's keeping us from being a great defense, and we've got to work through that."
End zone: Kicker Justin Tucker was voted by reporters who regularly cover the Ravens as the team's Most Valuable Player. Tucker, who won the award in 2013, has converted 37 of 38 field goals, is the most accurate kicker in NFL history with an 89.8 success rate on field goals and has tied former Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh's NFL record of 10 field goals of at least 50 yards in a season. "I obviously couldn't do any of the stuff that I do on the football field without [long snapper] Morgan Cox, [holder] Sam Koch, [kicking consultant] Randy Brown, [special teams coordinator] Jerry Rosburg and all of the rest of my coaches and teammates," said Tucker, who last week was named to his second Pro Bowl. "We've got a great group around here, and I can't brag on them enough. So to be able to turn our hard work into accolades is really cool." … Zachary Orr was named the media's Good Guy for his accessibility and professionalism with reporters. Orr follows in the footsteps of predecessors like quarterback Joe Flacco, outside linebacker Jarret Johnson and defensive end Anthony Weaver. "I know [Weaver] on a personal level," Orr said. "That was my linebacker coach in college my sophomore year [at North Texas] and just knowing the great guy that he is and for him to win this award and for me to come here and win this award, it's just a great thing."