When you've allowed an average of 3.5 sacks per game over your last six games, one of the last guys you want to face is Tamba Hali.
"The guy is just relentless," Ravens right tackle Marshal Yanda said. "He's all over the field making plays. You see his effort when you put on the film, and he just doesn't stop. Wherever the ball's at, he's there, and he doesn't stop until the whistle blows."
Hali, a fifth-year outside linebacker out of Penn State, has been a game-changer for the Chiefs this season. He posted 14.5 sacks on the year (second-best in the NFL), knocked down three passes, and forced four fumbles.
Kansas City has solid players at every level of their defense, but when you put in the tape, the Ravens say, Hali is the guy that pops out.
"He's impressive," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "He does an outstanding job. He's an impact player. You don't get that many sacks by accident. We'll have to zero in on him. You obviously double him, but you can't double a guy like that all the time, as many of the things they do. So, when you're single-blocked on him, block him. That's a big challenge for us."
The 6-3, 275 pound backer posted a solid first four years in the NFL, but he made great strides this year, and has put his name in there amongst some of the league's best pass rushers. Hali's teammates say it's his work ethic and motor which have helped him elevate his game.
"Tamba Hali is a technician," Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "He's a guy that studies a lot, and every game he's rushing the passer like a dog. My hat's off to him. We need Tamba. Tamba is a guy that's been a big part of our success this year."
The Ravens' offensive line has struggled of late, allowing at least four sacks in four of their last six games. This comes after they had allowed four sacks only once in their first 10 contests this year.
Opposing defenses know that if you can get pressure to quarterback Joe Flacco and force him to move out of the pocket, he's much less effective. They've been bringing more bodies off the edges lately, trying to get Flacco out of his rhythm and make him move his feet.
The Chiefs flip Hali and play him on both sides of the defensive line, so both Yanda and left tackle Michael Oher know they'll get a steady dose of Hali throughout Sunday's game.
Expect tight end Todd Heap and the Ravens' running backs to be involved in helping to slow Hali down, as well. The more that those guys can chip Hali and provide a little extra help slowing him down, the more comfortable Flacco will be as he tries to dissect the Chiefs' 17th-ranked passing defense.
"We have to know where he is," Heap said. "He switches sides sometimes, and so we'll be aware of where Hali is all the time. He's one of the sack leaders in the NFL this year, so obviously he's been performing and had a great season so far. We're going to have to make sure we know where he is and what he likes to do and know how to combat him."