In two playoff games, the Ravens’ defense has played 184 snaps.
That’s 46 more than the offense, led by quarterback Joe Flacco, which is averaging 31 points per game going into Sunday’s AFC title game at the New England Patriots.
The Ravens had to come from behind and win in double-overtime at the Denver Broncos last week 38-35. The defense stayed on the field for 94 plays in the altitude at Mile High Stadium.
“We've been rotating guys,” Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “I thought we were as fresh in the overtime game … as we looked at any time during the year.
“Everybody is a little fatigued. But at the same time, your adrenaline is pumping, and the emotion is a lot different now than it is if you’re playing the seventh ball game of the season playing (94) plays. It’s just different. You've got to find a way to pull a little more out of you.”
So that should put the Ravens at a disadvantage. But not really. They're benefiting from an extra day’s rest coming off a short week. A 24-9 wild-card win vs. the Indianapolis Colts two weeks ago was on a Sunday. The divisional playoff game with the Broncos was on the following Saturday.
“We've played a lot of plays,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “We've played a six-day turnaround, we went to the altitude, we made a cross-country trip, we did it on a short week, we played a bunch of plays in two weeks, and our guys were getting stronger into the fifth quarter it looked like to me.
“That’s a testament to the work ethic of our team. Our guys train. They train from the beginning of the off-season program right until the last day that they’re here. They’re in the weight room. They condition extra. (Strength and conditioning coach) Bob Rogucki and his staff and (head athletic trainer) Mark Smith and his staff have done just a tremendous job of training our guys. To me, for it to show up in January in these kinds of games, really is what it’s all about.”