Ravens defenders: It was time to hunt for sack record - Kevin Patra
Sunday’s sack fiesta blasted the team record of nine, which Baltimore had obtained three times. According to ELIAS, it marked the third time in which a team had 11-plus sacks in a shutout since team sacks were recorded in 1963.
Don ‘Wink’ Martindale’s unit had Mariota seeing ghosts, as the Titans QB was unsure where the pressure was coming from all day. Mariota completed just 10 passes while taking 11 sacks, becoming the first player since Jay Cutler in 2010 to be sacked more times than he completed a pass. Mariota was pressured on 53.8 percent of his dropbacks, highest in a game so far this season (min. 14 attempts).
The Ravens scrambled Mariota’s head with a bevy of secondary blitzes. According to Next Gen Stats, the Ravens had 10 sacks on blitzes in Week 6, more sacks than any other team has on blitzes all season.
Once the offense posted two early touchdowns, Martindale was able to blitz Mariota relentlessly with his arsenal of pass rushers.
It all was set up on the first drive – a 17-play, 94-yard march that ate more than nine minutes off the clock. It started with a 21-yard gain to Michael Crabtree, so on the Ravens’ first offensive play of the game, it was already a bit of a rebound.
Baltimore converted on third down five times on the drive and capped it with a 4-yard touchdown strike to Crabtree. When he came down with the pass and the refs signaled a touchdown, Crabtree popped to his feet and hurled the ball high into the air, as if to toss the weight off his shoulders.
The drive wasn’t just big for Crabtree, but for the entire offense after it hadn’t scored a touchdown in the past 123 minutes entering the game.
“It was huge,” Flacco said. “I don’t know how many third downs we converted there, but they’re a really good third-down team and they play really tight defense.”
With Joe Flacco delivering accurate passes and the receivers taking turns making contested catches, Baltimore impressively converted eight-of-nine third downs in the first half.
NFL Power Rankings, Week 6: Rams are lone unbeaten - Russell S. Baxter
11. BALTIMORE RAVENS 4-2
Recap: Neither John Harbaugh’s Ravens nor the Tennessee Titans managed to score a touchdown in Week 5 as these one-time divisional foes clashed in Nashville. And Baltimore made sure that wouldn’t happen again when it came to their team as Marty Mornhinweg’s running attack got 123 yards on 35 carries while quarterback Joe Flacco dropped back 37 times and wasn’t sacked. The results were three touchdowns, two by running back Alex Collins, and 381 total yards. On the other side of the ball, third-year outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith had three of the team’s 11 sacks – one short of the NFL record (12).
Next Week: Harbaugh’s club faces its first interconference foe of the season when they welcome the well-rested New Orleans Saints to Baltimore for the first time since 2010. The Ravens own a 5-1 lifetime record in this series dating back to 1996, including three straight victories since ‘06.
Playoff hopes: This was a huge bounce back win for a club that has been erratic, especially on the offensive side of the football. Harbaugh’s defense has been playing lights out ever since being humbled at Cincinnati in Week 2. It’s the kind of unit that could pave a way for a return to the postseason.
And this sets up one of those classic showdowns between an irresistible force, the Saints offense, and an immovable object, the Ravens defense, in Week 7 in Baltimore.
This is a Saints team that has looked to be a well-oiled offensive machine through five game of the 2018 Season. Led by the most prolific and accurate quarterback in the history of the NFL, also ranked number one in the league by Pro Football Focus currently, the Saints provide as unique a challenge for the Ravens defense as the Ravens defense does for Brees and company.
The Saints offense line hasn’t faced this kind of pass rush in quite some time. And the focus will be on Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk containing the edges. According to Pro Football Focus, those are the numbers four and six tackles in the league respectively. We’ll see if the Ravens pass rush is ready for that this Sunday.
Fortunately, the Ravens will face the diverse New Orleans offense at home. Generating interior pressure will be the key to disrupting the Drew Brees led passing attack.