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Aggressive coverage bothers receivers

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Aggressive coverage bothers receivers

The receivers are supposed to be linchpin to opening up the Ravens' long-dormant offense.

Until they prove they can beat press coverage, however, maybe expectations have to be dialed down.

For the second time this season, in a 9-6 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last week, they appeared to have trouble beating press coverage from physical defensive backs.

"I don't think it was an issue. It's football. We got great DBs we work on the press every other day with," said Jacoby Jones, who didn't have a catch against Kansas City. "It's all about the timing and the meshing with the offense."

Against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2, the Ravens blew a 10-point lead in that 24-23 loss as they failed to score a touchdown in the second half. Then, they blamed it on replacement referees not calling illegal contact after five yards which didn't permit receivers to get free. 

Against the Chiefs, the receivers never found the end zone. Kansas City also employed a Cover 1 scheme, which means they only use one deep safety as opposing cornerbacks are at the line of scrimmage to bump receivers off their routes. 

The regular refs are back now, so the claim of illegal contact can't be an excuse. Torrey Smith and Jones have blazing speed, but they combined to make three catches against Kansas City. 

"We have to handle that. We are getting pressed, getting Cover 1 for the most part in this game. It’s the same thing that they gave us two years ago in the playoff game, and we did a much better job with it," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, alluding to a 30-7 win over the Chiefs for the 2010 season. 

Of course, the Ravens also dropped passes in Sunday's game which didn't help the offensive flow, either. 

"We were in bunch routes. We did have motions to stacks. We did that sort of thing. The drops were a big part of that," Harbaugh said. "We threw a number of fade routes. We threw a couple wheel routes."

Dallas has has a solid defensive backfield, notably rookie Morris Claiborne and veteran Brandon Carr at cornerback.  

"People are willing to match their corners up, and we just need to take advantage of that and make some plays," Harbaugh said. "That’s what our guys want to do.”

Jones is in his first season with Baltimore but feels fully acclimated into the offense. 

"I'm on the same page with him. We're good," Jones said of his relationship with Flacco. "I love to be pressed. You miss, it's over."

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Dominant defense earns Ravens' Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors

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Dominant defense earns Ravens' Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors

The defensive performance on display by the Baltimore Ravens Sunday against the Tennessee Titans in a 21-0 shutout win was flat out historic. So historic that it's earned linebacker Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

A franchise-record 11 sacks were laid on quarterback Marcus Mariota during the Week 6 matchup, with Smith leading the way with three of them.   

So far this season the 26-year-old has 20 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. As someone who is in the final year of his rookie NFL contract, he's certainly proving he is worthy of getting paid this offseason. 

"It feels great, man. It's big," Smith said of the honor during media availability Wednesday. "I know when I first found out I called my mom and she was already looking at it. But I called her and she was trying to congratulate me and was like 'who would've ever thought the guy that played one year of high school football would be where he at now and making so many goals.'"

But earning AFC Defensive Player of the Week isn't the only goal Smith has in mind. His performance through the first six weeks and assisting the No. 1 ranked scoring defense is just a stepping stone to the ultimate honor.

"I was telling her, 'Ma you know this is a good self-goal but my main goal is to get us to the Super Bowl.'" 

The road to the Super Bowl for Smith and the Ravens continues this Sunday vs. Drew Brees and the Saints. 

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Peter King awards two Ravens with weekly honors for defensive performance vs.Titans

Peter King awards two Ravens with weekly honors for defensive performance vs.Titans

The Baltimore Ravens' Week 6 dominate performance over the Tennessee Titans is gaining national attention. 

A historic game that displayed the offense and defense firing on all cylinders, it's hard to pinpoint who had the biggest impact. 

So in his latest edition of Football Morning in America, NBC Sports' Peter King awarded not one, but two Ravens with weekly honors.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Za'Darius Smith

Against the Titans, Smith led the Ravens defense with three sacks and five tackles in their historic 11-sack game. On of three Defensive Players of the Week, King explained why Smith's performance stood out.

In the most dominant defensive performance of this ultra-offensive season, the Ravens shut out Tennessee 21-0 and had 11 sacks. Another one of GM Ozzie Newsome’s draft gifts that keeps on giving, Smith (2015, round four, Kentucky) contributed three sacks of Marcus Mariota and five tackles in a virtuoso game. Net passing yards for Mariota: 51.

Smith, who's entering the final year of his rookie NFL contract, has shown over six games he deserves to get paid in the offseason. So far this season the 26-year-old has 20 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble. 

COACH OF THE WEEK: Don "Wink" Martindale

In his first season as defensive coordinator, Don "Wink" Martindale has seamlessly made the transition from linebackers coach to leading the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense (12.8). But what impressed King the most from the 21-0 shutout was how Martindale's squad got to Mariota from every direction. 

When a unit records more sacks (11) than completions allowed (10), the leader gets an award. Those are the rules. Martindale’s pass rushers got to Marcus Mariota every possible way—up the middle, around the edges, in the pocket, on bootlegs, you name it. The total set a new franchise record and was one short of the single-game NFL mark of 12. And it came with a familiar face watching: Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees used to hold the same position in Baltimore. Shout out to the Ravens social media team for renaming the account RavenSSSSSSSSSSS, one ‘S’ for each sack.

This Ravens defense, who has always been known for its dominance, is ranked first in points allowed (12.8), first in yards allowed (270.8), second in passing yards allowed (188.0) and third in rushing yards allowed (82.8) heading into Week 7. In addition, they have yet to surrender a second half touchdown all season. Trusting of the talent this roster holds, the respect "Wink" has for his players is equally reciprocated. 

"It was really emotional when they told us we had 11 sacks," linebacker Patrick Onwuasor said postgame. "We just went out there and we were like, ‘We have to get Coach Wink . We have to put the Gatorade on him.’ So, we tried to turn him around so he couldn’t see it coming, and we had to get him real good."

Martindale will now face the No. 1 scoring offense in the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. 

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