The Ravens defense doesn’t let teams get to the red zone much. But when opponents do, they’re not likely crossing the goal line.
Baltimore owns the top red zone defense in the NFL, allowing touchdowns just 32.1 percent (9-for-28) of the time they let teams inside the 20-yard line. The Ravens are permitting the 10th-fewest red zone attempts per game (2.8), but are locking things down when they do.
On Thursday, defensive coordinator Dean Pees explained why the Ravens have had so much success in those situations.
“There are a couple of things,” he said. “I think there is a feeling of confidence, like there is on anything. I think that’s the way it is on third down, too. Teams that are usually good on third down are very confident on third down. They just seem to kind of maybe notch it up a little bit more. We do some things down there that I think are unique that other teams don’t do that I think our guys handle pretty well. And we’ve been doing them now for a couple years.
“When I came here, we installed a coverage that I think our guys play very well. Didn’t play it well the first year we were here, but we play it well now because I think they feel comfortable with it. And the other thing is, in certain ways, it’s easier to defend down there - you’ve got less field to defend.”
Is “less field to defend” the main reason the Ravens aren’t beaten close to the goal line too often?
“It just depends,” Pees said. “So much of it is based on what the other team does - what their best plays are, what their formations are, what their personnel is. There is just so much that goes into it than just that. There are times to take risks, and there are times where we have played not very high risk, played coverage and played well. I think the key thing is don’t do anything all the time. Don’t do the same thing all the time.”
Keeping teams out of the end zone has been a point of pride for the Ravens defense. Linebacker Daryl Smith said attitude in those key moments has been crucial to that success.
“That’s our end zone, and we don’t want anybody in it,” Smith said. “We just go out there, and we make enough plays down there to get them off the field and make them kick field goals.”
Said linebacker Terrell Suggs: “We take a lot of pride in defending everything. It’s not just the red zone. You don’t want to let teams score, and you give your offense a better chance of scoring and winning if you keep the opponents’ numbers down. We just take pride in all of that.”