The Ravens suffered through a lot of problems on defense throughout much of the season for many reasons.
Injuries really hurt the Ravens and forced coach John Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Dean Pees to lose several key players like Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jameel McClain, Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith and others. It caused Pees to shift many players around, but the defense has settled down during the first three games of the playoffs and their play on that side of the ball is a big reason the Ravens have earned their second Super Bowl trip in franchise history.
The Ravens, as has been noted several times before, lost several players to free agency and injuries on defense. But everything finally seemed to come together in the final two games of the regular season and really connected when Lewis returned from his triceps injury that forced him to miss the final 10 games of the regular season.
The bottom line is that the Ravens had a lot of holes at different points during the regular season.
"We weren't a very fundamentally sound defense early on," Harbaugh said when talking with the media on Monday. "That's why we had struggles. We were moving guys in and out and we had injuries, and I think [Pees and his coaches have] done a great job of making game plan choices and decisions that have been really effective strategically against the people we've played."
Then came one of the best performances of the season in Sunday's AFC title game in New England when the Ravens shut out Tom Brady in the second half and scored the game's final 21 points for a 28-13 victory. The defense shut down Brady and the Pats, and Harbaugh gave credit to Pees and the defensive staff.
"You saw it play out last night," Harbaugh said. "The guys executed really well and, to me, that's what a great coach, great teacher does."