Ravens in desperate need of a win
EARLY BIRD: Waking up with the Ravens on Saturday, as they prepare for Sunday’s crucial game against the Bengals.
Two-minute topic: Can Haloti Ngata have a strong game when the Ravens need it most?
Ngata has been one of the NFL’s dominant defensive tackles for much of his career. However, some would say Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins has replaced Ngata as the top tackle in the AFC North.
That can be debated another time. For now, Ngata’s focus is on helping the Ravens (3-5) snap a three-game skid. Atkins won’t be a factor Sunday, sidelined with a season-ending knee injury suffered last week. This is Ngata’s opportunity to take center stage in the trenches, and he does not want to waste it.
Ngata is not piling up statistics this season – ninth on the team in tackles with 26, including just 1 1/2 sacks. However, Ngata is still frequently double-teamed, which helps others make plays. For Ngata, it’s not about individual recognition. It’s about winning.
“I feel like I can do more,” Ngata said earlier this week. “Just because we’re losing, I think a lot of guys start looking at themselves (asking), `What can I do?’ But that can also be a trap, because you don’t want to do too much to where you’re doing two jobs instead of trying to do your own job. So, I guess for me, I just try to be more dominant in my position instead of trying to do too much.”
Ngata’s goal Sunday will be to control the middle, making it tougher for BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Gionvani Bernard to find running room inside. In passing situations., Ngata would love to bring pressure up the middle into quarterback Andy Dalton’s face.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis was not buying the notion that Ngata has slowed down.
“He still is so big and strong and just gets up and swats guys,” Lewis said. “He’s another guy who down the line will have an opportunity to be considered as a possible Hall of Fame player for his accomplishments. When you’ve had to coach against him like I have since he’s come into the league, I know his value and how good he is.”
The Ravens hope Ngata is very good Sunday.
Morning thought: “There is no motivational speech, no action, no scheme change or anything that’s going to happen that’s going to magically make us turn it around. We’ve got to go out there and play ball. It’s really that simple.” - Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith.
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