OWN MILLS, Md. – The Baltimore Ravens’ first win in six years and the revenge of the postseason are the hurdles their defense had to overcome.
After Derrick Henry took them 195 yards in the 2019 playoffs, the Ravens improved their top seven this season by trading Calais defender Campbell, signing free agent Derek Wolfe and putting midfielder Patrick Quinn in the first round. A year later, Baltimore will face the Tennessee Titans again, with the defense as the main target of Sunday’s wild card game.
Error! The file name is not specified. Rookielinebacker Patrick Queen played a key role in improving the Ravens’ defense. Rob Carr/Getty Images
When the defense gives Henry 100 yards, the Titans have gone 16-2 (.889) in the last two seasons, including the playoffs. When teams fall below this mark, Tennessee is 6-10 (.375) within this range.
They say Baltimore’s best chance to beat Tennessee is to take a powerful 247-pound back, but taking Henry is easier said than done (remember the hard hands unleashed on former Ravens defenseman Earl Thomas). Ravens defensive coordinator Don Wink Martindale said that facing Henry in any game is the biggest challenge.
Make no mistake, he is the best runner in football, says Martindale. We know. He knows.
– Matches, X-factors and other for each team
– Experts predict surprises, QB under pressure
– Myths for 14 teams in the playoffs
– Schedule, brackets, TV time and other
– What went wrong for teams that didn’t make the playoffs.
The inability to contain Henry led to Baltimore losing to Tennessee in the playoffs, just as it did in November. The Ravens’ solid defense held Henry in check for three quarterfinal games until he rushed for 133 yards and scored in the 22nd game of overtime. November scored the 29-yard touchdown that won the game.
Baltimore has a long tradition of stops, from Ray Lewis to C.J. Moseley and from Tony Siragusa to Haloti Ngata. The only time the Ravens allowed a 100-yard run in three consecutive games was in 1996-97 when Hall of Famer member Jerome Bettis did so.
Error! The file name is not specified. Ravens quarterback Derrick Henry’s stiff arm, Earl Thomas, still resonates in last year’s playoffs, piquing the curiosity of Ravens players and fans alike. Will Newton/Getty Images
Derrick Henry is one of the best racers to ever play this game and he’s in the zone right now, Campbell said. So, yeah… I am proud to stand in line and try to stop him.
Baltimore ranks 8th in defense, although it hasn’t been at full strength for most of the season. Due to COVID-19 and injuries, Campbell and nose tackle Brandon Williams played just nine games with 20 or more pressures each. Baltimore went 8-1 in all nine games, limiting teams to 101.1 yards.
We have a number of Warriors returning to this stage, Williams said. And it’s going to be a very different team, a very different defense. We care about what we have now and what we will do next. So that’s what we’re going to do.