Low-ranked defense outshines offense

Low-ranked defense outshines offense
November 27, 2012, 2:15 pm
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The Ravens average less than 17 points per game on the road, a far cry from their average at home which is more than double that.

With the exception of Joe Flacco’s second half at the San Diego Chargers, he has been a below average quarterback on the road, too.

They scored 9 points at the Kansas City Chiefs, 13 points at the Pittsburgh Steelers and 16 at the Chargers. Flacco led the offense to just one touchdown drive in those victories combined.

But somehow, the Ravens are 4-2 away from home, already equal to their win total there one season ago when they finished 12-4 overall.

"We’ve got the third-best road record in the National Football League, so that’s pretty good,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "But then again, our guys take the right approach. We’re certainly not patting ourselves on the back."

Such a record is possible because of a 24th-ranked defense that has given up the fewest points in the NFL in November. They've allowed 15 to the Cleveland Browns, 20 to the Oakland Raiders, 13 to the Pittsburgh Steelers and 13 to the Chargers in going 4-0.

They've done it despite losing cornerback Lardarius Webb to season-ending knee surgery, cornerback Jimmy Smith to a groin tear and linebacker Ray Lewis to a triceps tear, but the Ravens are allowing only 19.9 points per game for the season.

That’s 7th-best in the NFL, even though overall the defense ranks only 24th. Harbaugh called his team, now 9-2 and in command of the AFC North, special after the victory in San Diego.

He explained in more detail Monday.

"They are special because of the way they interact with each other," Harbaugh said. "The way they handle adversity, the way they work with each other, the way they care about one another -- all those intangible things that it’s really hard to quantify -- and everybody just kind of wants to shrug their shoulders at and say, ‘What is that?’

"If you have ever been on a team, like most of us have at one point in time or another, you really have a feel for that, and you kind of know what that means."