The mere presence of Terrell Suggs, who played in his third game for the Ravens since returning from an Achilles tear, has energized a defense that has been at the bottom of the NFL in almost every category this season.
While the Ravens have improved in key areas and have been getting significant minutes from the likes of the previously little-used DeAngelo Tyson, Bryan Hall and Josh Bynes, Suggs’ overall influence is undeniable.
The defense ranks just 25th overall, but it is playing with more of a can-do attitude even though they gave up 422 yards in a 55-20 win vs. the Oakland Raiders last week.
Suggs commands double-teams, and opposing players in the backfield have to stay put to help chip block.
While the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year isn't getting to the quarterback aside from a sack in his first game back, Oct. 21 at the Houston Texans, there is more pressure.
Suggs hasn't had a sack since then. Overall, has seven solo tackles in three games.
“Maybe it does help them the fact that they know that they don’t have to do too much because Terrell is on the field, also the fact that he draws a lot of attention,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He gets a lot of blocking attention, so that helps other guys who are singled out more than they would have been otherwise.”
The defense deflected six passes by Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer. Linebacker Paul Kruger, in just his fourth season, has played particularly well. His tipped pass resulted in an interception for himself.
Rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw is getting better each week after struggling in the preseason. Kruger started over him when the season began, then Kruger went to a supporting role when he was slowed by a back injury.
Now both start. And with Suggs, the linebacking corps have grown.
“His presence is felt, whether he’s putting up the big production or whether he’s not,” Harbaugh said of Suggs. “He’s a factor out there.”