Ravens

Quick Links

Game-changers RG3, Reed meet in Ravens-Redskins

201212021753644143285-p2.jpeg

Game-changers RG3, Reed meet in Ravens-Redskins

WASHINGTON (AP) Time to break out more superlatives. Robert Griffin III is about to play another game.

``He's unbelievable. He's back there, he makes more plays than anyone you've been around. He changes the game.''

Ah, but there's a catch. While it certainly sounds like a defensive player getting ready to face RG3, it's actually Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan talking about Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed.

``There's a reason people say he's the best of all time,'' added Shanahan, adding a bit of praise that's not even in Griffin's ballpark.

No active player has more interceptions than Reed. No regular starting quarterback this season has a lower interception rate than Griffin. The veteran ball hawk and do-everything rookie meet for the first time when the Ravens (9-3) visit the Redskins (6-6) on Sunday.

``You've just got to be aware of where he's at,'' said Griffin, who has thrown just four picks this season. ``Just like he's got to be aware of where I am.''

Every Redskins game this season has revolved around the unique challenge of defending a quarterback who can run the option with world class speed, yet whose decision-making when dropping back to pass is the envy of quarterbacks much older.

This week is no different.

``He's making great decisions,'' Reed said. ``He still has a lot to learn, obviously. The offensive scheme that they're running helps him out a lot.''

Griffin is also proving to be a winner and a national phenomenon, leading the Redskins on a three-game streak that has them within a game of first place in the NFC East. His jersey and cleats were sent to the Hall of Fame this week after he topped Cam Newton's NFL single-season record for rushing yards by a rookie quarterback.

``We've got to contain him,'' Reed said. ``We've got to get him on the ground and not allow him to run, but that's like telling Superman not to fly.''

Baltimore's reputation for defense has taken a bit of a hit this season as opponents pile up chunks of yards, although the statistics can be misleading. The Ravens are ranked 25th in the conventional measuring stick of yards allowed, but they are eighth in points allowed - and it's points that determine wins and losses.

Baltimore is in good shape to clinch a playoff berth for the fifth consecutive season and could sew up the AFC North this weekend, pending the results from other games. The Ravens lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, but they are currently the NFL's best bounce-back team, winning 15 in a row following a defeat since their last two-game losing streak in 2009.

``There's always a little bit of extra urgency after a loss, for whatever reason,'' Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco said. ``I don't know if it's a bad thing or a good thing. But we are always calm, cool and collected and confident around here.''

While the Ravens have a bit of a cushion in their division, the Redskins have been playing in must-win mode since dropping to 3-6 last month. After a trio of intense games against division rivals, Washington can now find motivation in winning the Beltway Bowl against its neighbor to the north.

``This is for all the bragging rights right here,'' Redskins tight end Niles Paul said, ``because we see these guys, we're friends with these guys.''

That's not a universal feeling in the locker room, however. After all, it's hard to build a rivalry between teams that play only once every four years.

``We've got enough rivalries as it is,'' Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson said. ``We've got a whole division of rivalries, so I don't think we can accept any more applications.''

---

Follow Joseph White on Twitter:http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

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

zadarius-smith-ap.png
AP Images

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. 

MORE RAVENS NEWS:

Quick Links

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. 

MORE RAVENS NEWS: