Harbaugh one on one: "Be at our best this next week"
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has shown surprising mobility this season, and he could be on the run again on Sunday against a Vikings pass rush that features the premier pass-rushers of the past decade in defensive end Jared Allen.
"Their front four is high, high motor – high motor," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said on Wednesday. "They get after it up front. They run all the different stunts, they have a nice little pressure package, but their front four flat out gets after it. Those guys are great pass rushers."
Allen headlines the group, but at age 31, he is beginning to show his age. Allen has just six sacks this season and is on pace for his fewest total in seven years. He led the league with 22 sacks two years ago. Allen has 123 sacks in his career, the most over the past decade and the second-most ever for a player in his first 10 season; Reggie White holds that record with 145.
“Numbers don’t lie. He’s one of the best in the game," Terrell Suggs said.
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Allen will line up on the right side, meaning he will square off with Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe in one of the key matchups of the game.
But the Vikings pass rush doesn't end with Allen. Left defensive end Brian Robison, a seven-year veteran out of Texas, also has six sacks. Considering how much trouble Michael Oher had against the Steelers last week, that's another matchup to watch. And defensive end Everson Griffen also has three sacks.
The Vikings have 28 sacks, which ranks 24th in the league. Overall, the Vikings defense is ranked 30th, so if the Ravens improving offensive line can neutralize the Vikings front seven, Flacco and his receivers could be in for a big day. But the Ravens know that nothing will come easily.
"All three guys (Allen, Robison, Griffen) get off the ball extremely well, " offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. "Not only that, they have a variety of moves to get to the passer. They are very, very good at their technique. They’re going to present quite a challenge for us.”