To get a sense of how rare it is for an NFL defense to record a shutout these days, consider that there have been only seven shutouts in 153 games in 2017.
Three of those shutouts have been won by the Ravens, whose latest one was a 23-0 dismantling of the Green Bay Packers last Sunday. Players remarked at how difficult each blanking has been.
“You should appreciate the work and the effort that it takes to go in and get a shutout,” free safety Eric Weddle said. “It rarely happens. Over my 11 years, I think I can count on one hand how many shutouts I’ve been a part of, and three have been this season. And a lot goes into it. If it’s a high-scoring game and if our offense is putting up a lot of points, they’re probably going to get a dink and dunk and get a score here. … A lot goes into it, getting a shutout.”
The Ravens joined an elite club, becoming the fifth team in the past 30 years to post three shutouts in one year and the first since the New England Patriots in 2003. Three of those teams — the 1991 Washington Redskins, the 2000 Ravens and the Patriots — went on to win the Super Bowl.
No one is suggesting that trend will come to fruition this season, and defensive coordinator Dean Pees tried to downplay a question of how the number of shutouts is indicative of the unit’s capabilities.
“I don’t know how good we can be,” he said Friday. “We’ve played really, really well at times. We’ve played OK at times. The only time I think we ever played poorly was Jacksonville for whatever reason, all of us. But if you go out and do the things you’re supposed to do and you do them better than the offense, I know that I’m not giving you an exact answer, but I don’t really know if there is an exact answer. You just go out and try to do the best you can. You hope you have a good game plan and that you’re putting the guys in the right position as a coach, and once they’re in a position, you hope they do the job.”
The NFL record for shutouts in one year is four set by that Ravens defense in 2000. But no one is talking about trying to earn another shutout in the final six games of 2017 with outside linebacker Terrell Suggs comparing it to talking to pitchers about throwing no-hitters.
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“This is the NFL,” he said. “You want to play well every week, especially on defense. We aren’t thinking about that. Seriously. We’ll take the win. 35-34 is good for us.”