Ravens secondary still in search of interception

October 11, 2010|By Edward Lee | Baltimore Sun reporter

Blessed with one of the stingiest pass defenses in the NFL, the Ravens could use a little divine intervention in one category: interceptions.

With just one interception thus far (by inside linebacker Ray Lewis), the defense is tied with the Buffalo Bills for the fewest picks in the league. The unit is also tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the fewest takeaways in the NFL.

Thursday, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison had expressed no worries over the alarming lack of interceptions, and on Monday, coach John Harbaugh backed up Mattison's sentiment.

"The interceptions are going to come," Harbaugh said during his weekly session with the media Monday. "… We do need more turnovers. We got one on the kickoff [a recovered fumble], which was good to see. That's something we shoot for, but I don't think you chase turnovers. That would be to the detriment of playing good defense sometimes."

NBC analyst Rodney Harrison had nothing but praise for the pass defense Sunday night.

"But it's not about the offense. It's about that defense," he said. "… And it's not about the front seven and Ray Lewis. It's about that no-name secondary. I can only imagine how good they're going to be once Ed Reed gets back."

The Ravens broke up a season-high eight passes in Sunday's 31-17 victory over the Denver Broncos, with cornerback Fabian Washington breaking up four and cornerback Josh Wilson breaking up two.

Washington got his hands on at least three of those passes from Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton to wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, and Wilson almost intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter.

"I really don't think those were drops," said Washington, who has intercepted one pass since joining the Ravens in 2008. "Any time Brandon got his hand in there, it wasn't just a clear drop. I'm not going to say I dropped them."

The Ravens get another chance Sunday when they visit the New England Patriots, but quarterback Tom Brady has thrown just two interceptions this season.

"As a secondary, we are still looking for an interception," strong safety Dawan Landry said. "Ray Lewis already has one. We were clowning around about that. Ray may lead the team in interceptions. There are still some interceptions out there we want to get."

Defending Ngata on offense

Harbaugh said he had no second thoughts about inserting defensive tackle Haloti Ngata on offense during a goal-line situation in the first quarter Sunday.

On fourth down-and-goal from the Broncos' 1-yard line, the defensive tackle was one of a few options for quarterback Joe Flacco on a play-action call. But Flacco was sacked and Ngata hurt his knee while getting tangled with Denver safety Darcel McBath.

Asked whether he had any second thoughts after watching Ngata lie on the turf for about a minute before he walked off on his own, Harbaugh said, "It makes you hold your breath for a second, but I don't think it really changes the way you think because you already knew there was a risk there. It just kind of draws everybody's attention to it. As a coach, you can't get scared away by public perception. I'm not going to get intimidated by the fact that the fans are going to say, 'Lardarius Webb got hurt on special teams [last season when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee]. He should never play special teams.' Well, you can think that, but we've got to put 11 good players out there on every single play in order to win that play because that play might be the play that makes a difference in the game, and that's just the way football is."

'Keeping fingers crossed'

Harbaugh still believes there is "a chance" that injured offensive tackle Jared Gaither will play this season.

He spoke with Gaither on Friday about his back injury, and Gaither told Harbaugh that he gets a sharp, shooting pain in the middle of his back when he does certain moves.

Harbaugh acknowledged that the team could soon have to make a determination on whether to place Gaither on injured reserve.

"We're just keeping our fingers crosed right now," Harbaugh said. "There is a chance he could get back some time in the next few weeks. If it's longer than that, we'll have to make a decision."

Ravens still looking for returns on kickoffs

Wilson averaged 20 yards on three kickoff returns Sunday, which is slightly less than the 23-yard average Jalen Parmele had compiled on 12 returns in the first four games of the season.

Harbaugh said replacing Parmele with Wilson on kickoffs was designed to kick-start the return game.

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