Ravens make halftime adjustments with run defense

The view of Kansas City Chiefs star running back Jamaal Charles dashing away from them and grinding up yards induced a slow burn for the Ravens' defense.

Growing more angry by the minute as Charles repeatedly accelerated and juked away from pursuit, the Ravens knew they had to change their strategy . Otherwise, they could have lost Sunday's game at Arrowhead Stadium instead of escaping with a 9-6 victory.


"We got mad because they were bleeding us real good," inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. "Jamaal's a good back, he's super fast."

After allowing Charles to sprint, spin and sneak his way around them in the first half for 125 rushing yards on 20 carries, the Ravens effectively shut him down in the second half as he gained just 15 yards on 10 carries after halftime.

Slowing down Charles was a key factor for the Ravens as the Pro Bowl runner collected the most rushing yards (140) against the Ravens this season.

"Jamaal has it all as a running back, but we took away the edge," cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "No edge, no chance. Keep the edge set and there's no cutbacks. That's what he does, he wants to cut back."

It was an emotional locker room at halftime, according to players, after being embarrassed by Charles in the first half.

"When you give up that many rushing yards, you have to get angry," defensive end Pernell McPhee said. "We were getting mad at each other, but you have to find a way. We had to be more aggressive to make him run sideways. We pushed them up the field, and we made him stop his feet."

Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees made an adjustment with how he deployed his front seven at halftime to cut off the perimeter and shut down Charles' running lanes.

By having defensive linemen Haloti Ngata, Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Terrence Cody and McPhee widen out where they lined up by a few yards to the outside and shifting the linebackers closer to the line of scrimmage, the Ravens were able to bottle up Charles.

"The message was very simple: make a little adjustment here, slide this way or whatever adjustment we made," said middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who struggled in the first half to keep up with Charles' moves. "Once you make that adjustment, everything changes. As you see, the second half was a totally different ballgame. "

Charles averaged 4.7 yards per carry for the game with a long run of 25 yards but never reached the end zone.

In the first half, Charles averaged 6.3 yards per carry.

"We couldn't stop the run in the first half at all," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "That was a disappointment, but we found a way to keep them out of the end zone. We made an adjustment with all of our fronts, one adjustment. It just made a big different for us.

"I thought our guys did a better job of getting off blocks at the right time. Charles is a little quicker than some backs that you see and our timing wasn't quite right, but we cleaned that up a little and changed our fronts a little bit and played really well in the second half."

In the second half, Charles was tackled for losses or gained 2 yards or less five times.


Charles is one of the most dangerous backs in the game, having rushed for 551 yards through five games.

The former track and field standout simply ran out of room in the second half, though.

"We made a few adjustments that really helped us out," Kruger said. "It was mainly a mindset we had
to change. We were just slipping up here and there. He's the type of back that can really hurt you anywhere.

"You have got to do a good job of swarming him from all areas. We tried to contain him and keep him inside the hashes. We did the best we could."

From his vantage point on the sideline, Ravens running back Ray Rice saw a different defense following a fiery halftime speech from Lewis.

"It was a totally different look in the second half, it was a totally different defense," Rice said. "I heard Ray Lewis say one thing, 'Stay square.' We were giving them angles. Great players make great adjustments. They just made an adjustment and they got it done."

Harbaugh characterized how the Ravens set the edge to slow down Charles to building a human wall. Ngata decked Charles for a 5-yard loss in the third quarter.

"I felt like Baltimore was keying on me in the secrond half," Charles said. "Our plan was to go in and try to slow down the game. We were trying to get the ball in my hands and the other running backs' hands."

In particular, inside linebacker Jameel McClain, outside linebacker Paul Kruger, Ngata and McPhee played major roles in the second half in limiting Charles' impact.

"We're disappointed in the rushing yards," Ngata said. "We don't like that, but we figured it out towards the end of the game. The coaches did a great job of adjusting."


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