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The 2017 Ravens defense is good, really, really good

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens defense was excellent throughout the preseason, leading the NFL in total defense. It was a unit that garnered so much hype around Baltimore, but hadn’t garnered as much national attention as many felt it deserved. After a 20-0 win against the Bengals, a statement has surely been made.

It was a spectacular performance by the Ravens defense, just looking at the scoreline could tell you that. The Ravens shut out the Bengals in Week 1. It was the first shutout win for the Ravens since 2009. The Ravens held the Bengals, an offense with A.J. Green, to 221 total yards.

Let’s not forget that this game was played on the road, in a stadium where the Ravens have really struggled to win. Winning on the road is hard, shutting out a team that has had your number over the years on the road is even harder.

Looking at the stats from this game further show how great this defense was today. Andy Dalton was held to under 200 yards passing. But more notably, the Ravens’ defense forced four interceptions. C.J. Mosley, Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb and Brandon Carr each had one pick. That wasn’t all of the turnovers, as the Bengals also lot a fumble in the third quarter.

The Ravens did not allow the Bengals running game to get going at all, holding the Bengals to just 77 yards rushing as a team.

The Bengals offensive line lost a lot of talent over the offseason, and the Ravens defense made sure to take advantage. The defense had five sacks, two from Terrell Suggs, and one each for Tony Jefferson, Michael Pierce and Za’Darius Smith. The front seven had been dominant in the preseason, and they continued that into Week 1.

Finally, the Ravens defense was consistently able to get off the field. The Bengals were held to just 26:00 minutes of possession, eight minutes less than the Ravens. The Ravens forced six drives of four or less plays, and six drives where the Bengals picked up less than 10 yards. With the exception of an 11 play, 82 yard drive, the Bengals didn’t have any drives that picked up 40 or more yards.

All in all, the Ravens defense was dominant. It proved that it is among the NFL’s elite units. Next week, they face DeShone Kizer and the Cleveland Browns, a game where the defense will get a golden opportunity to put out another excellent game.