Dumervil: Ravens stayed composed in overtime
The defense turned in one of their best performances of the year on Sunday, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
They made key stops on third and fourth downs. They knocked down passes, made good open-field tackles and finished with five sacks, bothering Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton from start to finish. Justin Tucker's 46-yard field goal gave the Ravens a 20-17 victory over the Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, but the defense deserved a lot of credit for this one.
"We knew we had a tough task coming in," linebacker Daryl Smith said. "Stopping the run and their two running backs and their receivers was a huge challenge. We were able to stop the run and get after them up front. We had tremendous pressure today. All that matters, though, is that we got the win."
The Bengals finished with 374 yards of total offense and 21 first downs, but they weren't able to make back-breaking plays when necessary. On third down, they converted just five of 19 chances (26 percent), and Dalton completed 24 of 51 for 274 yards and two touchdowns -- but had three passes intercepted, two by James Ihedigbo.
Elvis Dumervil led the way with 2 1/2 sacks as the Ravens repeatedly pressured Dalton and made life miserable for him in the pocket. The Ravens were effective throughout with a variety of blitzes and got plenty of heat on the quarterback with those blitzes or with just rushing the passer.
"Our one-on-one pass rushes were really excellent," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "The blitzes were just well-timed. We got some good pressure from our nickel, our linebackers and our free safeties."
Smith and Ihedigbo both led the way with nine tackles as the Ravens stopped the Bengals from making big plays and scoring. This proved crucial because the offense struggled in the second half after scoring 17 first-half points. The defense gave up 14 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime, seven of which coming on a wacky 51-yard touchdown pass on a Hail Mary throw during the final play of regulation when Dalton's long toss got accidentally deflected into A.J. Green's hands by Ihedigbo.
But the defense rallied in the extra period, stopping Giovani Bernard on after he caught a short pass from Dalton on fourth-and-two from the Ravens 33 on the first series. Corey Graham got credit for the tackle on the 11-yard loss, but Ihedigbo helped finish him off after the Bengals running back reversed his field to try and get away from the Baltimore defense.
That gave the Ravens possession at their 44. Seven plays later, Tucker nailed the game-winning kick.
"When your defense is playing like that, the best thing you can do is not put them back on the field in overtime when they get a stop," running back Ray Rice said. "And that's what we did."