Eric Weddle: 'I know for a fact no one wants to see us'

Print

The Ravens have been a different team since Lamar Jackson took the reins as the team's starting quarterback.

But while the offense's transformation has captivated hundreds of thousands, most have overlooked the most important part of this Baltimore team: Its defense.

Consider Saturday night's 22-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers the unit's coming-out party.

Baltimore started the game as well as it could: with a Brandon Carr interception of Philip Rivers. The Ravens nearly doubled the Chargers in total yards for the game and dominated time of possession in the first half. Los Angeles' longest drive of the first two quarters, in terms of plays, was a nine-play, 2:10 march to a Michael Badgley field goal just before the half. Twice before that, the Chargers went three and out.

Rivers lamented the difference in possession and how it negatively affected his team.

"Couldn't sustain many drives early in the game and therefore, time of possession in the first half was way lopsided due to us keeping our defense out there because we couldn't sustain any drives."

When the Chargers took a third-quarter lead on a short Melvin Gordon touchdown run (which followed a Kenneth Dixon fumble), it had the feel of a game the Ravens would ultimately lose thanks to producing only field goals when on the doorstep of touchdowns. After all, entering halftime trailing just 6-3 felt like a win for the Chargers.

But the Ravens answered almost immediately, with a pair of Jackson passes covering 85 yards and the latter of the two going to Mark Andrews for a 68-yard score. From there, it was on the defense to preserve the lead -- and preserve, it did.

The Ravens harassed Rivers relentlessly, registering a pressure on 43.9 percent of Rivers' 37 dropbacks (18 total pressures) for the highest pressure rate and most pressures Rivers has faced in a game all season (per Next Gen Stats). When Rivers was able to get a throw off, he found limited success, posting a completion percentage 5.1 percent below expectation and a 51.7 passer rating. All but two of Rivers' completions were to targets at less than 10 yards down field.

Los Angeles never even sniffed its average scoring output of 28.2 points per game.

"It's a good defense, and they outplayed us today," Rivers said. "Depending on what happens, we may get another crack at them in two weeks."

Perhaps they'll meet again, but the odds are the Ravens will pack the same punch. Baltimore has flown under the radar for much of the season, at least until Jackson's ascension drew attention to them. For the majority of the campaign, though, it has been their league-best defense either keeping them in games, or when the offense struggled, outright winning them.

Terrell Suggs' fumble-return touchdown iced a Week 12 win over the lowly Raiders in a game that was way too close for comfort. An 11-sack teardown of the Titans produced a shutout win for the Ravens in Week 6. A fourth-down stand secured a win over the Buccaneers last week.

The combination of the ever reliable, punishing defense, and a Ravens offense that not only can run, but showed Saturday it can also pass, makes this team dangerous -- and one that is peaking at the perfect time.

"Honestly, why not? What do we do? We play great defense," Ravens safety Eric Weddle said when asked if his team could reach the Super Bowl. "We control the ball on offense. We play great special teams. Why can't you win playoff football? That's the ingredients to win. Anyone has a chance. If we get in the tournament, we have as a good a shot as anybody.

"I know for a fact no wants to see us. I know that."

Print