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Schaub looks to avoid INT's, and build on victory

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Schaub looks to avoid INT's, and build on victory

Avoiding turnovers continues to be the biggest challenge for Ravens quarterback Matt Schaub.

His Ravens debut ended in celebration Monday night, after an improbable 33-27 victory. But Schaub would have been the offensive goat, if not for Brent Urban’s blocked field goal and Will Hill’s winning 64-yard return for a touchdown.

Schaub threw two huge interceptions – a 64-yard pick-six in the third quarter, and an underthrown pass with 50 seconds to play that almost handed the Browns the game. The Ravens will have a tough time winning consistently unless Schaub eliminates game-changing mistakes. But as they prepare for Sunday’s road game against the Dolphins, at least the Ravens can evaluate Schaub’s performance after a victory.

“He is definitely capable of playing winning football,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said following Monday’s game. “He didn’t see everything that he wanted to, but that’s probably because of not being on the field (for a long time). I’m glad we got the win.”

Monday was Schaub’s first start since 2013, and he had some good moments, completing 20 of 34 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns. Schaub was poised in the pocket, and due to his experience, there was no discernable difference in the Ravens’ game plan or play-calling without Joe Flacco, who missed the first game of his career due to his season-ending knee injury.

Schaub also responded to adversity well. After his pick-six, Schaub immediately led the Ravens on a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, completing five of six passes, capped by a 15-yard touchdown to Kamar Aiken.

“We had a couple of really big drives in the game,” Schaub said. “We’re definitely making it hard on ourselves, that’s for sure. It just shows the heart and character of the guys in the locker room.”

However, the turnovers cannot be ignored, because Schaub has been haunted by them in recent years. The pick-six was the 13th Schaub has thrown during his career, and his sixth since 2013.

“When something like that happens, it’s the worst of the worst,” Schaub said. “But to come back out and put a touchdown drive right behind that? It says a lot about our team and our offense. We didn’t blink.”

That’s the approach Schaub will take into Sunday’s game against the Dolphins. He wants to avoid the interceptions. But he is determined not to let them shake his confidence.

RELATED: McCown suffers season-ending injury vs. Ravens

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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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