Following the Ravens' dramatic last-minute loss to the Falcons last Thursday night, a host of fans and media members (this one included) began talking about how the Baltimore defense isn't what it used to be, especially in crunch time.
Members of that defense choose to disagree.
Safety Ed Reed, who has been a part of some of the best defensive units in team history during his nine years in Baltimore, says that while the Ravens have given up their share of points this season, he doesn't concur with those who say that the defense is slipping.
"Yeah, some people don't know anything about football," Reed said. "Everything factors in - offense and defense alike. We all play the game together, so we can't come out lacking on defense and offense is playing great ball, or vice versa. So, all that factors in. We were playing good ball, and we're going to continue to play good ball. It's just a matter of all of us putting it together in all three phases of the game."
On the season, the Ravens have allowed an average of 18 points per game, ninth-best in the NFL. Since Reed has returned from the Physically Unable to Perform list, however, Baltimore has given up over 23 points per contest.
The main concern to many in the Baltimore area is that Ravens don't seem to have the same killer instinct that they used to. They've now blown three fourth quarter leads in their last four games, and have allowed more points in the final quarter already this season than they did in that frame all of last season.
But Reed doesn't believe those numbers are a big issue. He said as much while taking a playful jab at the Redskins, who currently are struggling on the defensive side of the ball as well.
"If they'd beaten us 59-28, then we'd have problems," said a smiling Reed, referencing the beatdown that the Eagles put on the Skins on Monday night. "Oh, I was just throwing some numbers out there. If we'd have gotten beat 63-0, or something like that, then we've got concerns on defense. The score was 21-26, you know? They made a play at the end of the game.
"You can't put the calls in the referees hands; you've got to make the play. So, you can say our defense isn't this, our defense isn't that, [but] look across the league. That's why I said, some people don't know anything about football. You've got to look across the league. Every week is something different. One minute the defense is not doing this, the next minute it's the offense not doing this. We're still a great defense, and you're going to continue to add guys in every year and continue to take guys off. That's the nature of the business."
Linebacker Terrell Suggs gave a similar response when asked about the Ravens' defensive struggles.
Suggs said he still has plenty of confidence in his defense, and made the claim that there's still plenty of time left for the Ravens to fix any issues that have arisen the past few weeks.
"Damn. Tough crowd," said Suggs, when informed of the criticism the defense has gotten. "You can't let that bother you, because it's not the end of the season yet. If you let stuff like that get to you, then you can tend to let the thing you're capable of doing slip away from you.
"I'm not letting it bother me too much. We're 6-3. There's a lot of teams that are trying to be able to be in the position we're in right now. I think at the end of the year ya'll can make that final assessment, but we've got seven games left, we're still in first place in the division, and we've still got the potential to do some good things. We're not going to heap on it now. I think there's some things we've got to work on and get adjusted before we try to make a playoff run or a Super Bowl run. We just need to take care of those concerns ASAP."