Dean Pees cut right to the chase.
At his weekly media session, the Ravens defensive coordinator fielded the first question and immediately went on an impassioned, introspective five-minute defense of his defense, admitting that "it has been a difficult week" in the wake of the Ravens' season-opening 49-27 loss to Denver.
"When you look at a game and you give up 49 points and 500 yards, it’s just really, really disappointing," Pees said. "I’m not a stat guy, but I’m not an idiot, either. I don’t want to say that it doesn’t matter; it does matter. The bottom line is winning, but to say that, to kind of blow off that you don’t really care what the stats are, that’s not really true, either."
Pees stressed that despite Peyton Manning's record-tying seven touchdown passes, the Ravens contained Manning and the Broncos for large stretches of the game.
The problem, he said, came down to nine plays.
"This game, I can’t say that the whole defense didn’t play well. We didn’t play poorly; we played poor plays. And there were nine of them, and we’ve got to correct those nine plays."
Indeed, the Broncos had nine plays of 20 or more yards, and those plays totaled 307 yards, or roughly 60 percent of the Broncos total offense (510 yards).
So what happened on those nine plays?
The 78-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas, the game's final score, came on an all-out blitz.
"I ran a full-out blitz, which I almost really never do against Peyton Manning," Pees explained, but he figured with the Ravens already trailing 42-27, it was a go-for-broke move. "Something has got to happen, so we tried to make it happen. It didn’t. Somebody’s band was going to play, and it was theirs."
Pees attributed other big plays to missed tackles and one to a communication error. One of the nine plays came immediately after the non-challenge of a catch by Wes Welker. On the next play, Manning hit Thomas on the left side, and he deked Jimmy Smith and turned the short catch into a 34-yard gain.
It was easy to sense that Pees was frustrated and hurt that a 49-27 loss was all the Ravens defense had to show for all the film study, all the game planning, all the effort put in by players and coaches.
"I’m disappointed in the statistics, which look terrible," Pees said. "I’m not disappointed in the total defensive effort that we gave. I’m disappointed in nine plays; that’s what it is. So, it’s been a hard week. It isn’t one where you can just go in and start chastising and get everybody and be ranting and raving and be crazy. At the same time, you can’t sit there and go, ‘Well, it’s OK,’ because it’s not. It’s kind of that in-between. That’s as honest an answer as I can possibly give you.”