The Baltimore Ravens defense over 13 weeks has been a brick wall.
The combination of veteran players with wisdom to share and young talent with fresh mentalities has created a defense that resembles historic ones of the past under first-year coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale.
On Sunday, the Ravens defense limited the Atlanta Falcons to 131 yards of total offense marking the fewest by a Falcons team since 1999, per Ravens PR. They also got to quarterback Matt Ryan three times, one of which turned into an 11-yard touchdown run by cornerback Tavon Young to seal the 26-16 win.
In the Falcons' first 11 games, Matt Ryan and co. hadn't been held to under 299 yards. On top of that, the Ravens have held opposing offenses to under 200 yards three times this season. Not bad for a defense that's primarily led by a 33-year-old Eric Weddle and a 36-year-old Terrell Suggs who's leading the team in sacks at 6.5.
“We’ve learned over the course of the season when we play together, we win on first and second down and we be us on third down," Weddle said after the game. "That's being aggressive. Be in your face. Pressure. Different looks. Keeping the quarterback on his toes and we did that throughout the course of the game."
Ranked as the No.1 total and points per game defense heading into Week 13, a revamped offense that dominated time of possession in Sunday's game by almost double lent a helping hand in their success.
'Obviously, the offense helped us out," Weddle added. "The time of possession has been huge over the last three weeks. Keeping us rested. Keeping us fresh in the fourth quarter. I told the guys before that last drive, ‘We’ve been sitting down for 15 minutes, so we better have the energy. You better hit whatever you see these next few plays and let’s go win this game.’ It’s complementary football that we’re playing and just got to keep rolling."
"It’s true the best defense is a good offense," head coach John Harbaugh added. "Whether you’re scoring a lot of points or whether you’re eating up the clock, one or the other. The number of plays they are playing, the fact that they are fresh and well rested to get after people makes a big difference."
And that young talent that compliments the seasoned veterans includes 2017 first-round draft pick, Marlon Humphrey. Over the last several weeks, the cornerback has been matched up with some of the strongest receivers in the league and has come out on top, deflecting what could have been game changing plays. During Sunday's game, Humphrey didn't allow a single catch in his direction.
For a league that's becoming all about high scoring, offense dominating matchups like we saw Week 11 in Chiefs-Rams, having a defense average 17.8 points per game is something to be proud of.
The Ravens have found the formal for success down the stretch of the 2018 season as they're currently half a game back of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North and hold the sixth and final AFC playoff spot. And as they head to Kansas City to take on the No. 1 ranked offense in the league, the faith in one another is apparent.
“Not even just the team, but our defense. They’re rolling," Lamar Jackson said. "Two consecutive weeks we have turnovers for touchdowns. That’s incredible. They’re getting to the quarterback. Just like I said before, our offensive line is doing a great job protecting up front and just helping come up with victories. It’s a team game, man. The whole team.”
MORE RAVENS NEWS: