Ravens' pass defense needs to return to its opportunistic ways

Ravens Beat

Pass defense needs to return to its opportunistic ways by making interceptions, scoring TDs

November 13, 2009|By Jamison Hensley | jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

The Ravens' pass defense has allowed big plays in the past. The biggest difference with the defensive backs this year is they don't make big plays in return.

The Ravens are tied for 17th in the NFL with seven interceptions, but that number is misleading. They made four interceptions against the Cleveland Browns two months ago and have picked off just three passes in the other seven games.

In fact, the Ravens have only one interception in the past five games (it was Ed Reed's 52-yard interception return for a touchdown). The team's interception drought has lasted 14 quarters (the Ravens have allowed five touchdown passes during this span).

The lack of interceptions shouldn't come as a surprise when looking at the track record of the Ravens' starting cornerbacks. Fabian Washington has seven interceptions in 4 1/2 NFL seasons and only one in 20 regular-season games with the Ravens. Domonique Foxworth has five picks in 4 1/2 NFL seasons and only two in his past 36 games.

Even Reed, who has two interceptions, is off his pace from last season, when he led the NFL with nine. As a result, two players (the New Orleans Saints' Darren Sharper and Buffalo Bills' Jairus Byrd) have as many interceptions as the Ravens at the midway point of the season.

The Ravens, who thrive on picking off the ball and returning it for touchdowns, are on pace for their fewest interceptions since 2005. In two of the previous three seasons, they have led the NFL in interceptions.

Last season, the Ravens had only two games in which they didn't pick off a pass. They also ran back five interceptions for touchdowns: Reed (twice), linebacker-defensive end Terrell Suggs (twice) and safety Jim Leonhard. This year, it seems that the Ravens have dropped as many opportunities.

But all the blame shouldn't be directed at the secondary. A consistent pass rush forces quarterbacks to hurry and make poor throws (see the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense).

Now, as the Ravens play against the Browns on Monday night, the pressure is on them to start taking the ball away again.

Taketh away?
Where the Ravens rank in interceptions during the past five seasons: YearIntsNFL rank20051125th2006281st20071714th-T2008261st2009*717th-T* Through eight games


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