Defensive standouts from Ravens blowout win over Cowboys

The Baltimore Ravens got back on track and ended their three-game losing streak with a 34-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday night at M&T Bank Stadium. They rushed for a season-high 294 yards on offense and bent but didn’t break on defense.

Here are some of the defensive standouts from their crucial Week 13 victory:

DE Jihad Ward

In his first time being activated since Week Six against the Philadelphia Eagles before the bye week, the veteran defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid not only had his best game of the season but produced his most impactful performance since joining the team during the midseason remodel of the Ravens’ front seven last season.

Ward recorded the only sack of Cowboys quarterback and familiar foe, Andy Dalton, and accounted for all but one of the five quarterback hits that the defense registered.

He did his best work in the second half when Dallas was trying to mount a comeback where he logged his second sack of the season and on one particular drive, pressured Dalton on three consecutive dropbacks.

It is unlikely that Ward will be active for the Ravens crucial final stretch run as they try to make a push to the postseason especially with a huge game against the 9-3 Cleveland Browns up next on the schedule and with four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell back from injury and COVID but far from full strength.

DT Derek Wolfe

The veteran defensive tackle continued to be the same dominant iron man in the trenches for the Ravens in the return of Brandon Williams and Campbell as he was when they were out with their respective injuries and ailments.

Wolfe signed a one-year deal with the team this offseason and had his best game as a Raven by far against the Cowboys. He led the team in combined tackles with nine and was in several crucial stops at and near the line of scrimmage for little to no gain and even record a huge tackle for loss in a goal-line situation.

Ward was able to have such tremendous success generating pressure on Tuesday night in large part because of how Wolfe was able to perfectly execute the loops and stunts that Defensive Coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale dialed up.

ILB Patrick Queen

The first-round rookie inside linebacker had a solid outing and added five tackles to his team-leading total. He recorded the Ravens’ only turnover of the game when he corralled a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage for his first career interception.

Queen is one of the front runners in the race to win Defensive Rookie of the Year and made another nice play in coverage where he deflected a pass.

ILB LJ Fort

The veteran inside linebacker recorded the third-most combined tackles on the team with six including two for loss near the goal line. He made a great play when he climbed the ladder to break up a pass intended for Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott who was running a wheel route up the right sideline.

Fort would’ve recorded just his second career interception and first of the season had the officials reviewed the play or if the Ravens had enough time to challenge the ruling of an incomplete pass before Dallas rushed to snap the ball.

He had corralled a pass in the back of the end zone and got a whole leg down inbounds which by rule is equivalent to getting two feet down in bounds.

According to former Vice President of NFL officiating Mike Pereira who appeared on the broadcast moments later, it should’ve been ruled an interception and put under review to confirm.

OLB Yannick Ngakoue

Nov 1, 2020; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (91) rushes during the second half as Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva (78) blocks at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Pro Bowl pass rusher didn’t exactly have the big day on the stat sheet that I predicted he would have when I picked him as the potential defensive ‘X’ factor in my preview of this game but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t impactful.

Ngakoue only logged a single tackle and no sacks but he had several close calls where he was a finger-length away from forcing a strip-sack fumble before Dalton instinctively and unfortunately stepped up in the pocket to deliver the ball.

The lack of consistent interior pressure in this game despite both Campbell and Williams being back adversely effective Ngakoue’s ability to wreak this game off the edge but he was still disruptive.

He did record a pair of pressures and a pair of quarterback hurries even though he wasn’t able to register a hit. Sacks stats are glamorous but aren’t always the best measurement of quality or even elite pass rushers.

Honorable mentions:

NT Brandon Williams

Despite playing a season-low 37 percent of the snaps in games in which he played in all four quarters, the veteran nose tackle still made an impact and showed just how valuable he is to the Ravens defensive success in both the running and passing game.

Williams was an anchor in the middle of the defensive line when he was in the game and helped sure up what had been extremely susceptible to between the tackle runs in his absence.

He finished with a pair of tackles and tipped the pass that resulted in the Queen’s interception and set the offense up with a short field.

OLB Pernell McPhee

The veteran outside linebacker made his triumphant return from contracting COVID and had a good all-around game against the Cowboys. He was especially effective in defending the run as an edge setter and finished with five combined tackles including four solos.

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  1. December 11, 2020

    […] post Defensive standouts from Ravens blowout win over Cowboys appeared first on […]

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