AFC Championship Game: Ravens Defensive Stars

Jared Wickerham

Along with the obvious great play of Ray Lewis, there were as many defensive stars of the AFC Championship Game victory as there were on the offensive side of the ball.

Adding 14 more tackles to his post season resume, Ray Lewis is the easy choice as the Baltimore Ravens, if not the entire league, as the defensive star of the playoffs. Lewis is averaging almost 15 tackles a game for the team's three post season wins. In fact his 44 combined tackles is 18 more than the next best total, ironically by his teammate, CB Corey Graham.

Not surprisingly, the top five tackle numbers in the 2012 post season go to players on the Ravens. This is most likely due to the fact that Baltimore was the only team in the playoffs to end up playing three games in order to get to the Super Bowl. Regardless, Lewis' per game average is significantly higher than any other player.

At the same time, the other players on that list have played excellent supporting roles behind and in front of Lewis, including Graham, who had 11 tackles in Sunday's win. LB Dannell Ellerbe had five tackles, one QB hit, one pass defensed and that one huge interception off of a Pernell McPhee tipped Tom Brady pass deep in Ravens territory.

CB Cary Williams had six tackles as well as a late pick of Brady in the Ravens end zone. DT Haloti Ngata took up a lot of the Patriots' attention, but still managed to harass Brady all game, ending with three QB hits.

However, one of the most effective players on the defense yesterday was none other than the "Patriots Killer," safety Bernard Pollard. Pollard give the Pats and their fans nightmares and now he can add RB Stevan Ridley to his total of three players on New England that he has knocked out of games over his career. His KO of Ridley caused a fumble that was recovered by the Ravens, which ultimately was turned into a touchdown by the offense.

Pollard added nine tackles as well to his stats line and although he received another personal foul penalty for a hit to the head, his presence obviously made more than a few Patriots wince as he closed the gap between them. Don't think for a second that the surprising number of dropped passes by the New England receivers were just a case of the dropsies as opposed to taking their eyes off of the ball in anticipation of a crushing hit about to be received.

The Ravens held the Patriots scoreless in the second half, which is an amazing statistic, considering that New England was the highest scoring team in the NFL in the2012 regular season.

Super Bowl 47 is shaping up to be a great game, with two defenses playing "super ball."

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