Mattison: Losing Zbikowski to injury led to defensive struggles

Asked this afternoon what led to his defense giving up 21 second half points and allowing five straight scoring drives in Monday night’s win over the Texans, Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison pointed to the loss of reserve safety Tom Zbikowski.

Zbikowski, who had been in sub packages as the Ravens’ dime back against the Texans, had to leave the game in the first half with a back injury, and Mattison said that the absence of the three-year veteran was the No. 1 cause of the Ravens’ defensive issues after that point.

“The difference in the halves was totally losing Tom Zbikowksi,” Mattison said. “(It) affected a great deal of what we called, because he was our dime in that game, and we didn’t feel like you could put a linebacker on Owen Daniels.

“That was evident as the game went on when we did try to play some man against them and did try to play some coverage on them, you’ve got a total mismatch right there on one of the best tight ends in the league.”

Daniels had five catches for 91 yards Monday night.

Mattison talked with reporters for eight minutes today, and spent much of that time fielding questions about why a defense which held the Texans without a score on their first five possessions Monday night then allowed 28 points in a 31 minute stretch.

Zbikowski’s absence was the first thing that Mattison singled out as a reason for the defensive collapse, but he also put some of the weight on the fatigue factor.

Trailing big in the second half, Houston started to throw practically every down, it left the Ravens’ defenders feeling fatigued.

“I think the biggest thing was anytime you get into a passing game, it’s so much more taxing on the defensive line than it is [when it’s] a run game,” Mattison said.

Baltimore’s defensive coordinator also noticed a bit of a carryover from the Steelers game a week prior.

“There still was a lot of things left on that Pittsburgh game field,” Mattison said. “That defense and that front seven laid it out in that game and played their hearts out. And then to come back and change to a game that switched into pass, pass pass - it doesn’t hit you before it hits you.”

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