EARLY BIRD: Can Ravens tighten up 4th-quarter D?

EARLY BIRD: Can Ravens tighten up 4th-quarter D?
December 11, 2013, 7:00 am

Harbaugh wasn't crying after "epic" win

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) tackled by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs (55) at M&T Bank Stadium.

(Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports)

EARLY BIRD: Waking up with the Ravens as they return to the practice field on Wednesday.

Two-minute topic: Can the Ravens tighten up their fourth quarter defense?

OWINGS MILLS - By winning on Sunday, the Ravens overcame some serious defensive lapses in the final quarter. They allowed a 79-yard touchdown on a wide receiver screen to Cordarrelle Patterson. They allowed a 41-yard touchdown run by Toby Gerhart, on a straight handoff where four Ravens missed tackles.

Had the Ravens lost, those two plays would have haunted them. The Ravens’ fourth-quarter defense has been poor recently, yielding 13 points to the Steelers on Thanksgiving, and 20 points in the fourth quarter to the Vikings on Sunday. To win the last three games against the Lions, Patriots, and Bengals, Ravens coach John Harbaugh knows his defense must finish games stronger.

“I’m concerned about it,” Harbaugh said. “Finishing on defense has been our biggest issue. That’s something we have to be better at. There are things we’re looking at in practice, things we feel like we can emphasize. To me that’s not a hard fix, that’s just something we have to put our mind to and get done.”

The Ravens’ defense has been solid much of the year, but December is not the time to struggle. The offense bailed out the defense Sunday. The Ravens hope that will not be necessary moving forward.

Morning thought: “We’re not a one-man show on offense. We’ve got guys at every position that can make plays.” – Harbaugh, talking about the Ravens’ defense being stronger with tight end Dennis Pitta back on the field.

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