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Road to the Big Game: Defense Wins Championships

With all the criticism about the lack of offense from the Baltimore Ravens, when it comes to the post-season, defense wins championships. The saying has always been, "offense makes highlights, but defense wins championships." This was obviously true in the Ravens 2000-01 run to victory in Super Bowl XXXV, and even though this year's version couldn't hold a candle to that one, it is still among the league leaders overall, and third in the most important of all defensive categories, points allowed. Permitting only 16.9 points per game, the Ravens employ a "bend-but-don't-break" mentality. Surprisingly, they have squandered fourth quarter leads in all four of their losses this season, yet have not surrendered a touchdown in the third quarter since early in the 2009 season (25 straight games).

If Baltimore can muster any consistency on offense and use the weapons that were handed to QB Joe Flacco when the team acquired wide receivers Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte Stallworth in the off-season, then the pressure on the defense to carry this team once again will be relaxed.

However, ask any member of that defense and they would be fine being the reason the team wins those next four games. Ed Reed was recently named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for December, following Terrell Suggs earning the same honor for November. There's also some guy in the middle named Ray Lewis and that is without even mentioning DT Haloti Ngata, who made the Pro Bowl once again this season.

Unfortunately, many Ravens might have to miss that game the week prior to the Super Bowl, as they have every intention of going on the road to wherever they need to to get to the Big Game and win. First up are the Kansas City Chiefs, who went from worst-to-first to claim the AFC West. The Ravens must start off quick with some decent offensive firepower to show the league that they can muster up the offense when the games are "one-and-done."

In summary, while it would be nice to see this Ravens offense come out of its shell and open up the playbook to put a lot of points on the board, a la the New England Patriots, most Ravens fans would be more than satisfied to see Ed Reed return one more interception for a "pick-six" to win the game in just another boring, ugly, close win for the Baltimore Ravens on the road to the Super Bowl.