The Ravens' defensive front took a big blow before the game against the Eagles even started.
Saturday afternoon, defensive lineman Brandon Williams was put on the Reserve/COVID-19 list for being exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus. And with fellow veteran Derek Wolfe out with a concussion/neck injury, that left Calais Campbell as the only starter left along the defensive line.
And Campbell more than made up for the team’s losses.
In a three-sack performance, Campbell was all over the field and helped ready the younger Ravens defensive linemen for a six-sack performance against the Eagles in a 30-28 win.
“We talk a lot, and it’s something he was ready for,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’ll tell you this, but I think he relishes the opportunity to mentor these young guys. It’s something that he takes very seriously, and he had those guys confident and ready to go. They played well.”
Campbell’s three sacks were a game-high, and a season-high, for the veteran in what was clearly his best performance of the season. He had four quarterback hits and five total tackles as he was the most dominant player along the Ravens’ front.
Without Williams and Wolfe, Campbell ensured there was no drop off in production for the Ravens.
“It was one of those things where you hate to see it happen, but you know it’s always a possibility,” Campbell said of Williams’ COVID-19 situation. “I know he’s going through the whole process. You feel bad for him and his family, but you know that he’s just trying to work to get back. We have young guys who you’ve got to talk to them and tell them, ‘Hey, this is your opportunity. Step up and play the game the best you can. Let’s go out here and have some fun and play football.’”
The Eagles ran for 194 yards on the ground, but nearly 40 percent of that total came on a Miles Sanders 74-yard run. Otherwise, the Ravens’ defensive line made life a nightmare for Wentz and hit him 16 times. That started with Campbell up front.
Campbell credited the Ravens’ defensive backs with the afternoon and figured with their prowess along the back-end, he’d have plenty of opportunity.
“Our ‘DBs’ are the best in the game, and they made play after play,” Campbell said. “They gave us time. My mindset every time is, ‘Alright. Beat the guy in front of me, get to the quarterback and get a sack.’ I know with the DBs that we have, that’s a task where if we just keep rushing (and) stay alive, then good things are going to happen.”
The Ravens, even with the strong performance from the front seven, nearly blew through a three-score lead late in the game.
But on the last offensive play from the Eagles, the front seven came up with another big play as Matthew Judon was the first to hit Wentz and preserve the Ravens’ two-point lead.
“We study a lot of tape, and they’re one of the few teams that do that a lot,” Campbell said. “They really have a big playbook in the two-point plays, and we were ready for everything. You have to tip your hat off to Judon and L.J. Fort; they were right where they were supposed to be, and they came up big with the play that they needed to make. I’d put my faith in those guys any day of the week.”